Pro Football Hall of Fame: Raiders legend Tom Flores anxious for answer


Pro Football Hall of Fame: Raiders legend Tom Flores anxious for answer

Tom Flores has the best kind of Super Bowl plans. The former Raiders quarterback, offensive coordinator and head coach will be in Atlanta before that game, as guest of honor.

Flores was named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday afternoon for the first time in his 24 years of eligibility, a major feat for someone waiting so long without validation for a career well spent.

The NFL’s first Latino head coach, who won two Super Bowls as a head coach and another as a coordinator, was never even a semifinalist before this induction cycle.

Now he’s on the cusp of something truly special.

“It was exciting to make the semifinals, but I knew how rare it was to make the final 15. This is much bigger,” Flores said Thursday night in a phone interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “I’m going to be in Atlanta for the Super Bowl when they knock on doors. I’m probably going to be biting my fingernails off, if I have any by then.

"It’s another step, and a great honor. It’s about as big as it can get in my lifetime, if I can accomplish this while I’m still around and be able to celebrate with my friends and family, it will be monumental for me. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am to be in this position.”

There is one complication he expressed while speaking with Hall of Fame president David Baker Thursday night.

“I am going to enjoy this month,” Flores said. “It’s going to drive me crazy waiting so long.”

The Hall of Fame can only elect a maximum of five of the 15 modern-era finalists, and there’s a large contingent of worthy candidates this year. There’s a buzz around Flores this year, and the selection committee will discuss him openly on the eve of the Super Bowl.

It took a long time to make it this far, but Flores isn’t bitter about the wait. He understood that Al Davis was the star of the show, and was okay with that. It is gratifying, however, to see his career honored in such a way.

“I appreciate the committee acknowledging that part of my career and how important it is and how hard it is,” Flores said. “This is a tough business. I’m not a loud guy. I didn’t scream and yell on the sidelines. I didn’t create much of a stir. I was kind of boring, and I also worked for Al Davis.

"He got all the accolades, and I understood that. He understood that. And he said, ‘I’m the last guy who should push for you, because nobody will listen to me.’"

Raiders playing on 80-yard field won't change Jon Gruden's evaluation


Raiders playing on 80-yard field won't change Jon Gruden's evaluation

Jon Gruden didn’t have a problem with IG Field’s playing surface. The Raiders head coach made that clear after Thursday’s 22-21 preseason victory over the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg, an exhibition played on an 80-yard field due to concerns over unstable turf in one end zone.

“The field, I don’t know that was all about,” Gruden said. “We thought the field was perfectly fine.”

Playing on unusual dimensions simply could be a novelty if the Raiders still found value in game tape.

Gruden said that was the case, and it won’t alter how they look at the game action taking place among backups, with starters and significant role players sitting this one out.

“It’s not going to change the evaluation, other than we didn’t get some kickoffs, or some opportunities in special teams,” Gruden said. “I’m not going to make a big deal about the field. We like the field. We thought the field was perfectly ready to roll. You’d have to ask Green Bay about that.

“It didn’t impact our play calling or our evaluations. We just adapted, as they did, to the new dimensions of the field.”

[RELATED: Peterman impresses Gruden again, has shot to make Raiders]

The Raiders gave a home preseason game to Winnipeg, making this the second of three straight exhibition games played away from Oakland. Gruden said the experience worked out just fine, and that the team doesn’t consider the extra travel or field issues or things like that a distraction from their preparation for the regular season.

“It’s weird playing a home game in Winnipeg, but it’s exciting,” Gruden said. “It’s a great opportunity to spend some time together. We left some players at home. We had some players show up and not play. It was a good road trip. There are not as many distractions here as people think. Antonio Brown’s doing fine. We have a good, young football team.”

Nathan Peterman could make Raiders’ roster after impressing Jon Gruden again

Nathan Peterman could make Raiders’ roster after impressing Jon Gruden again

Who doesn't love a good redemption story?

Nathan Peterman's career got off to about the worst start an NFL quarterback has ever had. He threw five interceptions in his first start for the Buffalo Bills, and he has been used as a punchline ever since.

Then he came to Oakland, and has caught the eye of Raiders coach Jon Gruden. 

Peterman has been in a battle with Mike Glennon for the Raiders' backup quarterback position throughout training camp and the preseason. Glennon has taken the second-string reps through the first three preseason games and appears to have the upper hand in the competition. 

But that doesn't mean Peterman will be looking for a new home soon. 

The Pittsburgh product has impressed Gruden throughout camp and the preseason, and he played well again Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers at IG Field in Winnipeg. 

Despite the shortened 80-yard field, Peterman continued his march into Gruden's heart and the Raiders' 53-man roster. After Glennon played the first quarter against the Packers, Peterman was handed the reins and did everything Gruden could have wanted, completing 23 of 37 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns, while also leading the Silver and Black into field-goal range to set up Daniel Carlson's game-winning 33-yard boot. 

The Raiders left Canada with a 22-21 win, and while a lot can't be gleaned from a game played on a shortened field, Peterman's performance was something to note. 

"Well, we had seen enough of Glennon, to be honest," Gruden said after the game of the snap discrepancy. "He played very well in Arizona [last week]. I thought he did some good things tonight.

”I like Peterman. I've said that for a while now, and I thought he had two touchdown passes that were dropped today, right on the money. Had a couple other balls that were dropped, right on the money. He took care of the ball. Didn't turn it over throughout the preseason. He's athletic. 

"I like what he did tonight. Especially late in the football game."

Those statements would lead you to believe Glennon has won the backup job, but Gruden wasn't ready to make that announcement. 

"I'm not going to get into anything right now other than we got two pretty good quarterbacks that are competing for the No. 2 spot," Gruden said. "We call the game differently when Mike is in there than when Nate is in there. That will be the case if we keep all three, or whoever the backup is. I thought both of those guys performed well the last three games."

The Raiders didn't keep three quarterbacks on their roster last season, and most expected the Silver and Black to have just two when the Denver Broncos come to the Coliseum to open the regular season on Sept. 9. 

[RELATED: Raiders receivers coach breaks down stacked position group]

Peterman's play, however, might have changed the equation. 

"I've always kept three — last year was the first time we didn't," Gruden said. "I'm not saying we're going to keep two or three, but we are going to try and keep the best 53 guys. We've got three guys who can play the position, and we'll have to make that decision here in the next week."

Peter-Can make the roster? You bet.