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Legendary Raiders coach Flores finally headed to Hall of Fame

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Raiders' Tom Flores

The Iceman's long, cold wait is over.

Tom Flores, 83, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Raiders, was elected as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021.

The announcement was made Saturday evening during "NFL Honors," the annual awards show that takes place on the eve of the Super Bowl.

Hall of Fame president David Baker was shown on video informing Flores that he takes his rightful spot in the Canton, Ohio shrine among the legends of the game.

Flores was the first Hispanic starting quarterback in the NFL and the first minority head coach in professional football to win a Super Bowl.

He won Super Bowl rings as a player (Kansas City Chiefs) and as a Raiders assistant coach before guiding the Raiders to two more Super Bowl titles as head coach.

Flores took over as coach of the Raiders in 1979, taking on the daunting task of following the charismatic John Madden. Flores, with his stoic demeanor and measured approach, proved to be a good fit for dealing with strong-willed owner Al Davis.

“Tom had to follow that in his own quiet way,” former Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett told NBC Sports Bay Area last year. “That was one thing. But the shadow of Al Davis was hanging over Tom the whole time. He was under a lot of pressure to follow John and work under Al Davis. It’s not easy. Al was bigger than life in the Raiders organization and pro football in general.

 

"Tom took all that in stride. He knew what was expected and got the job done. He got his team ready to play well each and every Sunday.”

His 1992 autobiography, co-authored by Frank Cooney, was entitled “Fire in the Iceman.” His nickname was featured in a recent Coors Light advertising campaign, along with a petition in support of the Iceman’s induction into the Hall of Fame.

But Flores’ destiny was virtually sealed in mid-August when he was selected as the finalist in the newly adopted coach category.

Instead of competing for one of five spots in the Hall of Fame among modern-era players, all Flores needed for induction this time was at least an 80 percent vote among the 48 members of the selection committee. The voting for the Class of 2021 was held two weeks ago in a meeting over video conference that lasted nearly nine hours.

Flores was named as the finalist nominee among coaches. Former Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn was the contributor nominee, and former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson was the seniors nominee.

Flores and former Chargers offensive mastermind Don Coryell were finalists for the Hall of Fame last year. But a blue-ribbon committee assigned to elect an expanded 2020 class in conjunction with the NFL's centennial season instead selected Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher.

Flores’ teams compiled a 105-90 record, including 8-3 in the postseason. His teams with the Raiders were 91-56 before he coached his final three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Raiders became the first wild-card team to win a Super Bowl in Flores’ second season as head coach.

The Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10, in Super Bowl XV.

The Raiders won their second Super Bowl under Flores with a 38-9 victory over Washington in Super Bowl XVIII.

Flores was born in Sanger (Fresno County) and went on to play quarterback at then-College of the Pacific in Stockton.

He played nine seasons of professional football, including starting the first Oakland Raiders game at quarterback in 1960.

Flores appeared in 84 games with 64 starts and completed 810 of 1,640 pass attempts for 11,635 yards with 92 touchdowns and 83 interceptions during his Raiders career. He is the sixth-leading passer in team history. Flores was named to the Pro Bowl team in 1966.

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Flores was traded to the Buffalo Bills in 1967. He spent more than two seasons with the Bills. When he was released in 1969, the Kansas City Chiefs picked him up. He was a backup to MVP Len Dawson of the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV.

The Class of 2021 is scheduled to be formally enshrined in Canton on Sunday, Aug. 8.

Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors.