NFL pioneer Tom Flores fell short of the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet again after a vote earlier this month. The result was met with the usual disappointment from his supporters, but now the fight to get Flores into the HOF is going all the way to Congress.
On Thursday, two congressmen — Jim Costa (CA-16) and Darren Soto (FL-09) — introduced a resolution urging that Flores be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The House of Representatives, of course, has no say in the matter, but it’s further testament to the support that Flores’ HOF case has among many.
“With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, we thought the timing was good,” Costa told Yahoo Sports. “People are focused on the Super Bowl and he has four Super Bowl rings.
“Coach Tom Flores was a pioneer, a trailblazer,” Costa said. “It’s long overdue.”
Flores, 82, is significant in NFL history for a few reasons. He was the first person to win a Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach and a head coach. He won four rings total, with two of them coming as the head coach of the Raiders.
He was also the first Hispanic quarterback to play in the NFL and first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl. He was the Raiders’ first quarterback when they debuted in 1960. He won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs in 1969. He was a coach with the Raiders under John Madden, then took over as head coach after Madden. They won Super Bowl XI with Flores as an assistant, then Super Bowls XV and XVIII with Flores as head coach.
Flores’ most recent Hall of Fame hopes came in December when he was one of 38 people named as a finalist for the Hall of Fame Centennial Slate, which gave players and coaches previously passed over another shot at enshrinement.
Many thought this was Flores’ best (and perhaps final) chance, but he fell short. Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher were the two coaches elected in a class of 15 from the Centennial Slate.
Costa — who represents Flores’ hometown of Fresno, California — told Yahoo Sports he expects the resolution to pass the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Rep. Soto, who serves with Costa on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement:
“As society progresses, we become ever more mindful [of] our nation’s diverse history, and the first Hispanic quarterback, Tom Flores, is no exception,” said Rep. Soto. “Flores was a multiple time Super Bowl Champion, both as a quarterback and as a coach. These victories are made even more meaningful by the fact that he was in every sense an NFL trailblazer. It’s time for his name to be etched into the history books with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I am proud to work with Congressman Costa to introduce this resolution!”
It’s hardly the first time we’ve seen politicians get involved in sports debates. Just last week, the Los Angeles City Council weighed in on baseball’s sign-stealing scandal, asking MLB to award the Dodgers the 2017 and 2018 World Series titles after the Astros and Red Sox were both embroiled in cheating accusations.
Asked how much impact he thought the resolution could have for Flores’ future Hall of Fame chances, Costa was practical.
“I think it’s part of a larger effort,” he said. “It’s a campaign to raise awareness about the significant contributions that Tom Flores has made over 30 years. Obviously the sportswriters who have votes need to weigh and evaluate his career compared to others, but we need to do everything we can.”
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