Sanger native and Raiders coaching legend Tom Flores was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Sunday.
Delivering the second address of the night, featuring a lineup that included fellow Raiders great inductee, Charles Woodson, Flores regaled the national audience with his upbringing in his hometown of Sanger.
Amid a low roar of cheers for the Fresno County farming town, Flores cracked a joke at the long wait for enshrinement.
“We have people from Sanger here. Long way to come, from Sanger. 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.”
Flores, the NFL’s first Hispanic starting quarterback and first Hispanic head coach to win a Super Bowl, is one of only two footballers to have ever won the Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach, and head coach.
The other? Chicago Bears great Mike Ditka.
Flores has had a number of near-misses in Hall of Fame bids, with NFL fans growing disappointed that an historic figure wit significant bona fides was being snubbed in his twilight years.
Heading into the announcement of the 2021 Hall of Fame class, Flores got a major boost from all corners.
Two members of Congress from the San Joaquin Valley – Reps. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and David Valadao (R–Hanford) – led the push for a resolution in Congress calling for his enshrinement.
Meanwhile, Coors Light drastically raised Flores’ profile among younger football fans by displaying the Sanger native – using his longtime nickname of “Iceman” – on cans of its beer.
In concluding his remarks, Flores called on a memory from Super Bowl XV wherein Raiders assistant coach Sam Boghosian, a Fresno native, remarked to Flores – then the head coach as the clock ticked down on a his historic first Super Bowl victory in a battle with Philadelphia Eagles.
“Not bad for a couple of grape pickers,” he said.