Tom Flores Enshrinement Speech

TOM FLORES: Thank you. Thank you, Carol Davis. How about a round of applause for Carol Davis, who wasn't able to be here tonight, but she did a wonderful job. A wonderful lady, a longtime friend, and she and I go back a long ways in the old days of the American Football League.

But the reason I'm here and the reason I'm second on the program tonight is that I am 84 frappin' years old. I've got to go to bed at 9 o'clock.

(Laughter and applause.)

Where's my pillow?

Being here today at this Enshrinement means the world to me. My journey began a long time ago when my father, as a 12‑year‑old, migrated to the Central Valley in California with his family. They came from and Mexico and settled in the San Joaquin Valley and worked the farms, as they did in those days.

And their first house, our first house, had dirt floors and no indoor plumbing. So we came from what everybody else had come from. We were not the only ones that lived that way. They made sure that my brother and I did well in school and participated in different activities, as many as we could. Education was very important to them, and it became very important and prominent in my life.

The Sanger High School District in my hometown of Sanger, little old town Sanger ‑‑

(Cheers.)

We have people from Sanger here. A long way to come from Sanger. Did you ever try to get here? It's not an easy place to get to. I've been trying for a long time to get here.

(Cheers and applause.)

I started a foundation there in 1988 for the kindergarten through eighth-graders in my school district for the enhancement in educational opportunities. I'm very proud to say as I stand here that it's been funded. We have funded it so it will go on in perpetuity. I'm happy to say that.

(Cheers.)

At first, as a young guy, I wasn't planning on going to college. Because in those days, when you went to school, and then when you got through with high school, you went to work. Well, I loved school. So I worked hard to get an academic scholarship, and played every sport I could possibly play, did every event I could possibly attend, and so I settled on football as my major sport to be productive in.

I worked hard, and I played high school football in Sanger, Fresno City High College and the College of Pacific in Stockton, California, and now the University of the Pacific. They don't even play football anymore, but that's where I was. Long time ago.

I'm old‑fashioned; I don't use a prompter.

(Cheers.)

When I was one class short of my master's degree, after having failed twice to make the professional football leagues in Canada and also in the NFL, I got a call from these guys called the American Football League. And I thought, well, I'm going to give it a try. So I joined the Oakland Raiders.

(Cheers and applause.)

We were just a bunch of guys who didn't have a home stadium. Most of the guys in training camp had no idea where Oakland was, I had to tell them, and we were playing in San Francisco.

Having a new league gave us all an opportunity to play football and continue. There weren't a lot of jobs. There weren't a lot of teams in the National Football League. But it gave us an opportunity.

 

My mother cried when I told her I was going to play professionally instead of coming home to be a teacher as I had studied for in college. But in the end, she was the proudest of all because I followed my passion. And that's what brought me to this stage today, tonight.

(Cheers and applause.)

Passion. When you talk about passion, you're looking at passion on this entire stage. The passion that you have sustains you through all your years of professional football.

There are so many people I want to thank for supporting me here. I can't name them all, but I'll name a few, going back to my high school coach real rapidly, Clarence Floder, Dean Nicholson, Moose Mars in college. And Jim Plunkett, dear friend of mine. Paul Maguire, dear friend of mine. Ron Wolf, a member of the Hall. Marcus (Allen), a member of the Hall. A friend of mine, Mike Ornstein, not able to make it tonight. Everybody knows Orny.

But my No. 1 is this little cute gal I met when we were both at the College of the Pacific. She was the cutest gal I've ever seen. We both came from hard‑working parents who created a better life for us. And everything we did, they tried to encourage us to do.

We were both the first to graduate from college.

(Applause.)

Barbara and I dated for five years. Took me five years to convince her that I was the guy.

(Laughter.)

Now we've been married for 60 years.

(Cheers and applause.)

Barbara, I'm so grateful for you every day. You know me, good parts and bad parts. You put up with the bad parts. You're my biggest fan, and you're my best friend. And I love you dearly. Thank you, thank you.

(Cheers and applause.)

I also want to thank my children for being so supportive of my career, the ups and the downs. Children suffer, as all of us up here know, between the hard times of training when Dad is away. I can remember once my boys asking, “Daddy, are you going to come and live in our new house with us?” Because I was always leaving with a suitcase to go someplace to play. And then they said, “Why doesn't Daddy play with us at home?”

Well, they learned, and my kids hung in there with me. They cheered for their old dad and never tried to change me. My children – Mark Scott, and Kim – and my grandchildren – Brian Kevin, Jillian, Megan and young Jacob – I'm very proud of you. I'm very proud of you. I'm very proud of what you've accomplished and who you have become.

(Cheers and applause.)

I want to thank all the players and alumni who worked with me and for me. We worked hard together, and we were very successful. We won a few games, won Super Bowls. But our friendship will endure forever. And as I enter the Hall, I feel like you're going in with me. You don't get there alone. It didn't happen in a vacuum. A lot of people have helped me do what I did in my career.

I want to thank the Raider organization. They've been incredible. Raider Nation is everywhere.

(Cheers and applause.)

I spent 55 years of my professional life with the Raiders as a player, an assistant coach, a head coach and a radio announcer, and now as a representative in the PR Department. There is no better group of people or no better place to have your second home.

I particularly want to call, mention to the late Al Davis, who was my mentor, my coach.

(Cheers and applause.)

I love his wife, Carol, dearly, as you saw in the video. And I loved coaching his son Mark, who's up here with me, now the owner and running the team. When he used to come to the camp as an 8‑year‑old, I met him, and we used to – he used to create havoc on the playing field because we only had two balls, and it was a very low budget.

(Laughter.)

To everyone I've played the game with and everyone who's played for me: You're my other family. Football is a world that we share with a powerful bond. When I was traded to Buffalo and went on to Kansas City and then on to Seattle, they all welcomed me as family, as it should be. If you played the game, respect always is there, whether we played together or not.

Today on this stage, we're on one. One team of Gold Jackets. This is a very emotional day for me. I've been blessed with a great life, doing work that I love with people that I love and adore.

I was always happy in the world of football, and now, because of this honor, I'll be part of it forever. Forever. Realize that. That is incredible.

(Cheers and applause.)

Here is a memory I'd like to leave with you. It's Super Bowl XV in New Orleans. The clock is ticking down; there's one minute left, and we're ahead by 17 points. One of my assistants, Sam Boghosian, the late Sam Boghosian, who was from the Central Valley of California – and his family is here tonight – leaned over and looked at me and said, "Not bad for a couple of grape pickers." And I said, "Sam, not bad at all for a couple of grape pickers."

Thank you so much. Congratulations Class of 2020, Class of 2021. Go, Raiders!

(Cheers.)



Close