ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have had a Pro Football Hall of Famer enshrined in Canton in each of the past four years, from Warren Sapp in 2013 to Ray Guy in 2014 to Tim Brown and Ron Wolf in 2015 to Ken Stabler last month.
Might Tom Flores make it five years in a row? Should he?
Flores, who won two Super Bowl championships as the Raiders head coach in the 1980 and 1983 seasons and also has rings as a Raiders assistant in 1976 and a backup quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1969, was again named as one of 94 Modern-Era nominees for Hall consideration on Wednesday night.
He leads a list of candidates who wore Silver and Black, along with offensive lineman Steve Wisniewski, running back Roger Craig and defensive backs Eric Allen and Albert Lewis.
This might be the best shot in years for Flores, who turns 80 in March and is on the Raiders radio broadcast team.
Flores won a Twitter poll I posted last month in runaway fashion in which I asked which eligible former Raider should be the next to be enshrined in Canton, with Flores receiving 55 percent of the 1,417 votes. Quarterback Jim Plunkett was next with 18 percent of the vote; receiver Cliff Branch had 17 percent and cornerback Lester Hayes had 10 percent.
Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised by how much support Flores received on social media, and one has to wonder if Tony Dungy being selected this past year awoke many to Flores' achievements.
Besides being the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl, 26 years before Dungy, Flores was also the first professional Latino quarterback when he played with the Raiders in 1960.
And if you're telling the history of the purportedly inclusive NFL, can you do it without mentioning Flores?
Plus, Flores was 11-5 against Don Coryell, who was a finalist for Hall consideration last year, as a head coach and 6-0 with the Raiders vs. Don Shula, the all-time winningest coach in NFL history.
Then again, the now-48 selectors (Hall of Famer players-turned media members James Lofton, who played one season for Flores with the Raiders, and Dan Fouts, who faced Flores’ teams as a member of the San Diego Chargers, have been added to the selection committee) might suffer from Raiders fatigue when it comes to whittling the list of 94 to 25 semifinalists in November. Perhaps they're willing to wait for Charles Woodson in 2021.
Still, of any Raider currently nominated, Flores has the best case. There has been talk of Flores being moved to the contributors category, given that was also a general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. He will not be eligible to be considered by the seniors committee until 2019.
The Hall fates of Plunkett and Branch are now in the hands of the seniors committee, and Branch's candidacy was discussed before former Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley was announced as the senior nominee. Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are the contributor finalists.