The NFL's Latino Trailblazer, Tom Flores, inducted into the Hall of Fame
The former player, coach, and two-time Super Bowl champion was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Feb. 6.
After three nominations, the legendary Tom Flores makes history by becoming first Latino to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coaching. Paul Gutierrez reported for ESPN that Flores won 80% of the votes cast by 48 on the selection committee.
At 83 years old, the first Mexican-American NFL quarterback was elected into the Hall of Fame on Feb. 6 in what is a long-overdue recognition. He and Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka are also the only people in NFL history to win Super Bowls as head coaches, assistant coaches, and players.
"Congratulations to Sanger alum Tom Flores. It's about time," read a comment on a Twitter account dedicated to the Apaches of Sanger Union High School in California.
Many fans wondered about Flores' absence from the Hall of Fame, some even calling it a "great omission," as they recognize that Flores broke barriers for Latinos in American sports. The omission was publicly labeled as "racism."
However, Flores himself stated that he did not feel discriminated against.
"I have never encountered rejection or discrimination for being Latino in the sports world. If you are good enough, you will play, I am from California, so this part of the world is more liberal. My coaches always treated me fairly, and even as a professional, they hired me because they thought I could win, not because of my descent," Flores told ESPN.
After finding out about the third nomination, Flores' fans launched campaigns on social media to remember and demand the necessary recognition for his sports career and even organized rallies in his hometown to ask for his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
Even Latino legislators in California urged the Hall of Fame Coaches Committee to induct the NFL legend in 2021. Eduardo Garcia (Coachella), Miguel Santiago (Los Angeles), and Joaquin Arambula (Fresno) introduced Assembly Resolution 13, reinforcing support for Flores before membership decisions are made.
The quarterback acknowledges the positive influence he generated for the Latino community in the United States.
"Being on national television as a quarterback was a big influence for a lot of Hispanic kids and their families. You don't think about it when you're doing it," said Flores.
After a wave of racial violence and an anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, and anti-black atmosphere over the past few years in the U.S, in addition to the pronounced racial inequalities that have intensified the health crisis across the country, Flores' election feels like an act of vindication in the sports arena.