Tony Dungy: Tom Flores a 'powerful trailblazer' who deserves Hall of Fame

Ahead of a possible induction into Canton for Tom Flores, Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy -- the first Black coach to win a Super Bowl -- advocates for why it should happen. George Rose/Getty Images

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Calling Tom Flores a "pretty powerful trailblazer" in the NFL, Tony Dungy -- the first Black coach to win a Super Bowl -- endorsed Flores -- the first minority coach to win a Super Bowl -- for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday.

Results of voting for the Hall will be announced Saturday.

"I think it would be very significant," said Dungy, who is already in the Hall of Fame. "People don't understand the history of the game ... people don't think of 'first minority' and Tom and what that was. I don't think people talk about that enough. I think it would be great. I'd be shocked if it doesn't happen, but I think it's well deserved."

Flores, who was an assistant on John Madden's Super Bowl XI-winning staff with the Raiders, was head coach of the Raiders teams that won Super Bowl XV and Super Bowl XVIII. He also won a ring as a backup quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1969 and was the first Latino quarterback in pro football history, debuting with the Raiders in 1960.

"As an African American, you're sitting there saying, 'There isn't a lot of diversity,'" Dungy said of his own playing career. "I remember coming into the league and there were no minority coaches on our staff in Pittsburgh ... you might go seven, eight weeks without seeing a minority staff member on the other side of the field. So when you saw the Raiders and you saw Tom and you saw some assistant coaches over there -- Willie Brown, Art Shell -- it was huge. And I think it spoke to a lot of what Al Davis was about.

"But also, you have to look at Tom and his path and blazing a trail and playing a position [at quarterback] where we didn't have a lot of minority participation. And then coach and GM and president [in Seattle]? Yeah, pretty powerful trailblazer."

Flores, 83, is a two-time finalist for Hall consideration and was the lone candidate in the new coach category this year. Former Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson is a first-year candidate on the modern-era ballot and is a near certainty to be enshrined. Virtual voting occurred on Jan. 19. Flores told ESPN.com this week that he was feeling fairly confident he would get the call.

"But I felt pretty good the last two times, so who knows," Flores said with a laugh.

Dungy, meanwhile, said Flores does not get enough credit for his game plans.

"At all," Dungy said. "At all. But he was very sharp. Always well prepared. We had some battles with him when I started coaching on Coach [Chuck] Noll's staff when Tom was the head coach [of the Raiders]. What always struck me was the professionalism and his demeanor. It was very similar to mine, and I guess I was attracted to that.

"When you're [understated] like Tom, you don't get the credit for the X's and O's. You're not doing the interviews and telling them about this play that you designed. He's just saying, 'Hey, Marcus Allen made a great run.' Well, he didn't talk about the way they blocked it and made the little change to go with it. That wasn't his style. I think he is not given credit for being an X's and O's guy; he was for the Raiders at that time."

It was Flores, for example, who noticed a certain tendency in the Baltimore Colts secondary from up in the press box during an AFC divisional playoff game on Dec. 24, 1977. Flores, then the Raiders' receivers coach, called down to the sideline late in the fourth quarter and advised Madden, "Look for Ghost to the Post."

Ken Stabler then hit Dave Casper on a long pass that put the Raiders into field goal position to tie the game, which the Raiders won in double overtime.

"Those are the stories you're not going to hear very often," Dungy said, "because he's not going to perpetuate them."

Meaning, Flores' laid-back demeanor belied his contributions to the game. Accomplishments that include being the first to win a Super Bowl as a player, assistant and head coach and, in his nine seasons with the Raiders, having a higher winning percentage (.610) than Hall of Famers Bill Walsh (.609), Tom Landry (.607) and Noll (.566). Flores also had a .727 winning percentage in the postseason, going 8-3, with only Vince Lombardi's .900 postseason winning percentage (9-1) being better.

Flores was also a combined 16-11 against coaches already enshrined in Canton -- including 6-0 against Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history -- while with the Raiders.

"Just a gentleman, very sharp guy and a football man all the way," Dungy said. "Super impressive.

"Let's hope we have that good news for Tom. I really believe we will. Just being on that call and listening, I just didn't hear any sentiment against it. So, we'll see."