Professional football people are short-sighted to say the least. They could have scored a major touchdown with the growing Latino segment of its fan base! Well, folks, it's not too late! Tom is on the list for the 2013 class! The Hall of Fame now has a chance to finally redeem itself with the emerging Latino pro football fan throughout the country!
Why they have failed to do a dramatic outreach effort to this segment of America baffles the (profit-making) mindset.
Although we (speaking of the Latino community) have had some great Hispanic players, with guys like Joe Kapp, Jim Plunkett and Tom Fears, how many regular fans knew they were even Hispanic? Things are picking up with the likes of Jeff Garcia, Tony Romo and (now) Mark Sanchez, a former USC quarterback who could potentially become an NFL star. But, the few Latino professional football players we have (had) in the league basically have the same problem that Latino actors have faced for over a century: Ignored!
But the NFL could change all of that, if they would only showcase one of those living icons already among its ranks. The NFL community and its base of fans have had a professional Latino football hero for almost the last 50 years: Tom Flores!
Many folks question and still debate whether the first Hispanic to coach a professional football team was Tom Fears or Tom Flores. It has been stated by various entities (and your recent article as well) that Tom Fears was the first Hispanic named to coach an NFL team when he was hired by the expansion New Orleans Saints on January 27, 1967.
However, although Tom Fears had a stellar career in professional football, and has been inducted to the National Football Hall of Fame, Fears was actually born in Guadalajara, Mexico, to an Anglo father and a Mexican mother. Fears was the son of an American mining engineer who had married a Mexican woman in Guadalajara, and then moved with his family to Los Angeles at the age of six. Therefore, to be more accurate as to who can claim that title (and not appear to be splitting ethnic hairs), Tom Flores, who was born to both Mexican parents in Sanger, California, a man who has lived the Mexican American experience, deserves that honor!
To most football fans, who is or who is not the first Hispanic to coach a professional football team is an insignificant statistic. But to the emerging Hispanic community, whose football fan base is growing much larger every year, whatever honors of achievements the few Latinos in football can claim, means a lot to this burgeoning group of American citizens.
Tom Flores is - to many Mexican Americans – a living football legend that has inspired many Latinos to excel in that sport, among other professional endeavors! While many who vote for players to be inducted into the National Foot Ball Leagues Hall of Fame may not recognize Flores’ accomplishments, as being sufficient to qualify for that honor, he has played with, coached, and inspired many players and coaches who are now in the Hall of Fame, including Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Dave Casper, Mike Haynes, Ted Hendricks, Howie Long, Jim Otto, Art Shell and Gene Upshaw. Although Jim Plunkett has not been inducted (yet), all of pro football acknowledges that Tom Flores was responsible for resuscitating Plunkett's career, who was the Super Bowl MVP in 1984.
He retired as a player after the 1970 season. He was one of only twenty players who were with the AFL for its entire ten-year existence. He is the fifth-leading all-time passer in the AFL.
After a 5-10 finish to the 1987 season, Flores moved to the Raiders' front office, but left after just one year to become the president and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. He returned to coaching as the Seahawks head coach in 1992, but returned to the front office following three disappointing seasons. Flores resigned from the Seahawks in 1994 following Paul Allen's purchase of the Seahawks.
Flores left Pro Football with a lifetime coaching record of 97-87 (52.7%), as well as an 8-3 playoff record, and with two Super Bowl victories. Flores, Jimmy Johnson, and George Seifert are the only eligible coaches with two such victories, who have not been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Tom Flores is also active with many charities throughout the country including the Boy Scouts of America’s (Los Angeles District) Tom Flores Celebrity Golf Tournament, and the Tom Flores Youth Foundation, which provides scholarships to students attending his high school. In honor of his many accomplishments in football and to the community, his home town high school in Sanger, California, has named its football stadium the "Tom Flores Stadium" in his honor.
[Tom Flores was honored by the National Council of La Raza last year, as he was presented with its "Roberto Clemente Sportsman Award"]
We encourage all pro football and Tom Flores fans to send an email to those Hall of Fame voters in your area to induct Tom Flores into the Hall of Fame. Click this following link to access email addresses of those who vote candidates to the National Football League's Hall of Fame>> Email List of NFL HOF Voters