Tom Flores thought he was a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 37 years ago, when he won his second Super Bowl as head coach of the Raiders. But he’s only getting inducted now, this summer.
Flores admitted he grew increasingly frustrated in all those years that he didn’t make the Hall of Fame, and began to doubt it would ever happen. At the age of 84, Flores has finally been selected and is getting ready for the enshrinement ceremony.
“I kind of expected [being inducted] sooner, but it didn’t happen, so then I got skeptical about it and guarded in terms of this might be the year,” Flores said, via Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I wasn’t going to count on anything. But when I saw Mr. Baker had knocked on my door, and I saw that big body come through the doorway, I said, ‘Oh, man,’ There is no better feeling. I had tears in my eyes. I have tears in my eyes right now just thinking about it. That’s a lifetime of achievement. And that’s forever.”
Flores was a quarterback on the very first Raiders team, in 1960 in the American Football League, and he said it’s been amazing watching the journey of the franchise.
“I remember our first day ever in the history of the Raiders in Santa Cruz, California,” he said. “There were 11 quarterbacks in training camp. Eleven. We couldn’t even get all in one picture. Now, 61 years later, you look back and say, ‘Look at what we’ve done.’ No matter how many ups and downs, we always persevered. When I saw [Allegiant Stadium] in Vegas, I must have said ‘wow’ a hundred times. We used to have a closet to practice in and a field that sunk at one end.”
The Raiders have come a long way, pro football has come a long way, and now Flores has finally made his way to Canton.