Tom Flores

Pro Football Hall of Fame: Tony Gonzalez in; Tom Flores, John Lynch miss out

tonygonzalezusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Pro Football Hall of Fame: Tony Gonzalez in; Tom Flores, John Lynch miss out

ATLANTA – Former Raiders coach Tom Flores and 49ers general manager John Lynch on Saturday fell short of the required votes to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 48 voters selected the Class of 2019, which included first-ballot inductees tight end Tony Gonzalez, safety Ed Reed and cornerback Champ Bailey. Cornerback Ty Law and center Kevin Mawae were also voted into the Hall of Fame on the modern-era ballot.

Seniors nominee Johnny Robinson, and contributors Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt round out the eight-person Hall of Fame class. Those eight individuals will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 3.

Gonzalez, who played football and basketball at Cal, is considered one of the top tight ends in NFL history. A 14-time Pro Bowl selection, Gonzalez played 17 NFL seasons with Kansas City and Atlanta. He ranks No. 2 all time behind Jerry Rice with 1,325 receptions. He ranks sixth in receiving yards (15,127) and eighth in receiving touchdowns (111).

Neither Lynch nor Flores advanced Saturday from the 15 finalists into the top 10. A maximum of five modern-era candidates can be elected into the Hall of Fame in any given year.

Flores, a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, was a first-time finalist in his 24th year of eligibility. He was 83-53 in his nine seasons as Raiders head coach.

Lynch was a finalist for the Hall of Fame for the sixth time. Of the 22 finalists who have been a finalist six times, Lynch is the only one of those individuals who has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame. He appeared in nine Pro Bowls during his career with Tampa Bay and Denver.

The selectors met for nearly eight hours on Saturday at the Georgia World Conference Center on the eve of Super Bowl LIII, to discuss the merits of each of the 18 finalists. The conversation lasted 18:54 for Flores, while Lynch’s discussion went for 12:39.

Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowl performer with Baltimore, ranks No. 1 all time with 1,590 interception return yards. Bailey was elected to 12 Pro Bowls in his 15-year career with Washington and the Denver Broncos. Law, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, is the first player from the New England Patriots dynasty to be elected into the Hall of Fame. Mawae was an eight-time Pro Bowl player with the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.

Robinson recorded 57 interceptions in his 12-year career with the Dallas Texans and Kansas City of the AFL. Bowlen won three Super Bowls as Broncos owner, and Brandt was instrumental to the Dallas Cowboys’ success as a scout.

The longest discussion of the modern-era candidates was for Law (27:16), followed by offensive tackle Tony Boselli (26:10), Mawae (24:52) and coach Don Coryell (22:37). The shortest discussion was for Reed (2:20).

Defensive lineman Richard Seymour and wide receiver Isaac Bruce, who finished their careers with the Raiders and 49ers, respectively, did not make the cut from the 15 finalists into the final 10.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area is on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors.

Pro Football Hall of Fame: Raiders legends campaign for Tom Flores

plunkettfloresap.jpg
AP

Pro Football Hall of Fame: Raiders legends campaign for Tom Flores

Jim Plunkett was honored at a charity golf tournament supporting Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Desert in Palm Desert last weekend, and the former Raiders quarterback reserved part of his keynote speech for an old friend standing close by.

While Plunkett didn’t plan on discussing former Raiders coach Tom Flores being a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he couldn’t help but make a case why the Iceman belongs in Canton, Ohio.

Flores was in the crowd, and Plunkett considered it too important a topic, one Plunkett’s passionate about to ignore.

“Being on stage, I had to,” Plunkett said Thursday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “Here’s a guy who has been in involved in four Super Bowls, one as a player and three as a coach. He was an NFL quarterback for many years and a GM in Seattle. If he doesn’t get into the Hall of Fame, there’s something seriously wrong with the voting.”

Saturday will mark the first time Flores is discussed among Hall of Fame finalists. This marks the first year Flores advanced beyond the initial wave of nominees, advancing to the semifinals and now to the final round of voting.

His candidacy will be discussed Saturday during a marathon meeting of Hall of Fame selectors in Atlanta. A group of 18 finalists will whittle down by more than half to form the 2019 HOF class.

Plunkett won’t be in the room then. Only the 48 selectors are allowed in, to discuss and vote on the merits of each finalist.

Plunkett and Hall of Fame cornerback Mike Haynes campaigned for Flores to be in that honored group this week, echoing sentiments of so many who played for the legendary Raider who won two Super Bowls as a head coach and another as an offensive coordinator under John Madden.

“Tom is a great person first and foremost, but was an excellent head coach, assistant coach and player,” Plunkett said. “He has accomplished a tremendous amount in his career and certainly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

"To be overlooked time and again, I would be hard pressed to find someone with his credentials and achievements in the NFL. There’s no doubt in my mind that he belongs in Canton.”

He had an 83-53 regular-season over nine years as Raiders head coach, with an extraordinary .727 winning percentage in the postseason. He also had an indelible impact on the NFL, as the first Latino quarterback in pro football, and the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl. He was also the first minority general manager during his time running the Seattle Seahawks.

He doesn’t get the credit others do for a true Raiders golden era, because he was rarely the loudest personality in the room. Late owner Al Davis was always that man. So was Madden, a legend Flores succeeded as head coach.

“Tom had to follow that in his own quiet way,” Plunkett said. “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.”

While Al Davis had a huge impact on years of Raiders success, Flores' contributions can’t be ignored.

[RELATED: Raiders legend Tom Flores anxious for answer]

Haynes says Flores had a unique way of getting his guys to peak on Sundays, and play their best in the biggest games. The Raiders were expertly prepared under Flores, with a level of confidence and cool that stemmed from the head coach.

That’s what he was able to do on a micro level, but Haynes believes we should also step back and look at his large contributions to professional football.

“His impact on the sport must be considered,” Haynes said. “Not too many had great careers as a player and then as a coach. Not only did he win one Super Bowl, he won two. I’m hopeful that he’ll get in this year. He deserves to get in there’s no question about it.”

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

floresap.jpg
AP

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.’"