NFL PANTHERS RON RIVERA FOLLOWS RAIDERS TOM FLORES TRAIL BLAZING LEAD
OAKLAND, CA (AP) - When Tom Flores won his first Super Bowl as head coach of the Oakland Raiders 35 years ago, the impact of being the first Hispanic coach to reach those heights didn't hit until well after the game.
There was little made of the achievement in the lead-up to the game in New Orleans that the Raiders won 27-10 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and outside of a few postgame interviews with Spanish-language media members, there was not much of a fuss after the game, either.
It took until the offseason for Flores truly to digest the impact he had.
''It happened when I went into the offseason and started traveling a little bit and doing appearances,'' he said. ''When I went into certain areas then it was brought to my attention the pride in Hispanic areas. That was pretty special.''
Flores is feeling that same sort of pride leading up to this year's game now that a coach who looked up to him is poised to follow in his footsteps. Carolina's Ron Rivera is looking to join Flores as the only coaches of Hispanic heritage to win the Super Bowl when the Panthers play the Denver Broncos on Sunday in Santa Clara.
Flores has followed Rivera's career casually since he played college ball at California in the 1980s, and the two got to know each other well last summer at a charity golf tournament. Flores hopes to see Rivera for a few minutes this week to catch up and wish him well.
Rivera has called Flores a trail blazer and said Flores' success helped lead him into coaching after his playing career. That respect means...