Raiders' owner says Flores belongs in HOF; Pereira wants 'eye in sky' official

Ron Borges

Mark Davis, owner of the currently homeless Oakland Raiders, has many things on his mind at the moment. But central among them is the Hall of Fame candidacy of his team’s former coach and four-time Super Bowl winner, Tom Flores.

This week Davis visited with Talk of Fame Network’s Hall of Fame hosts, Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge, to discuss Flores, who at 81 became a Hall of Fame finalist for the first time this year. Borges, Gosselin and Judge will be among the 48 voters sent to Atlanta the day before Super Bowl LIII next week to debate his candidacy along with the 14 other modern-day finalists before emerging with no more than six inductees. It is Mark Davis’ opinion Flores should be one of the survivors.

“Tom was involved in five Super Bowls and won four,’’ Davis reminded. “As backup quarterback with Kansas City (in 1969), with the Oakland Raiders as an assistant coach and twice as head coach. He helped develop the vertical (passing) game with the Raiders. His whole resume is what I’d look at. It’s overdue.’’

Davis argued Flores’ ability to manage the desperate and sometimes madcap personalities he coached with the Raiders as well as his role as a trailblazer for minorities when he became the first Hispanic starting quarterback in pro football history and later the first minority of any kind to coach in and win a Super Bowl form a Hall of Fame legacy that should be impossible to ignore.

“He’s touched a lot of people,’’ Davis said.

Davis didn’t stop there however. He also advocated for three Raiders yet to be enshrined, former Defensive Player of the Year Lester Hayes, former Super Bowl MVP and Comeback Player of the Year Jim Plunkett and arguably the most dangerous deep threat receiver the Raiders ever had, Cliff Branch. Hayes was a four-time finalist but never elected and now resides in the senior pool. Plunkett and Branch never were debated by the full committee.

Also visiting Talk of Fame Network this week is FOX rules analyst and former head of NFL officials Mike Pereira, who stops by to rehash the officiating horror show that was the conference championship games. Pereira admits “you cannot have this mistake again’’ when discussing the blown pass interference call that cost the New Orleans Saints a likely trip to Super Bowl LIII. His solution is what he calls “a sky judge.’’

Pereira advocates for an eighth official in a booth upstairs with the power to quickly view an obviously blown call on replay and signal down to the game officials that it needs to be changed. Pereira insists this would take no more than 15 seconds.

“If he sees definitively a missed call he could correct it in 15 seconds,’’ Pereira said. “In real time. Not a three-minute review. On site. Not in (an office) in New York.’’

Pereira explains how he would conduct a beta trail of the eye in the sky official to avoid unintended consequences and then how he would implement it in the pre-season, playoffs and then regular season.

He also outlines why he always opposed the idea of creating “all-star’’ officiating crews for the playoffs rather than keeping crews that have worked with each other all season together for the playoffs as well.

“Never was (for it),’’ Pereira said. “The same crew makes sense to me.’’

What made sense to Gosselin was debating whether Hall of Fame finalist Tony Gonzalez should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He points out that if Gonzalez becomes the first tight end ever elected on his first ballot the argument would have to also be made that the Hall is declaring him the greatest tight end of all time. Greater than John Mackey? Greater than Kellen Winslow?

Gosselin points out Gonzalez is the greatest receiving tight end in history but was he really a tight end charged with the responsibilities others had in blocking. He also points out the changes in the position’s demands may argue he and future tight ends be lumped in with wide receivers because it is what most of them have become.

Dr. Data also brings the information on the makeup of this year’s Super Bowl officiating crew led by referee John Parry. Rams’ fans were upset a week ago and mounted a petition drive to have referee Bill Vinovich removed from the NFL Conference Game because the Rams were 0-7 in games he’d worked. That petition was ignored and good thing because the Rams are 7-0 when Parry-led crews officiate. More significantly perhaps, Parry worked one Patriot game this year, the one in which New England was assessed a season-high 14 penalties.

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