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Many folks have questioned and still debate whether the first Hispanic to coach a professional football team was Tom Fears or Tom Flores. It has been stated by various entities that Tom Fears was the first Hispanic named to coach an NFL team when he was hired by the expansion New Orleans Saints on January 27, 1967.

However, although Tom Fears had a stellar career in professional football, and has been inducted to the National Football Hall of Fame, Fears was actually born in Guadalajara, Mexico, to an Anglo father and a Mexican mother. Fears was the son of an American mining engineer who had married a Mexican woman in Guadalajara, and then moved with his family to Los Angeles at the age of six. Therefore, to be more accurate as to who can claim that title (and not appear to be splitting ethnic hairs), Tom Flores, who was born to both Mexican American parents in Sanger, California, deserves that honor.

To most football fans, who is or who is not the first Hispanic to coach a professional football team is an insignificant statistic. But to the emerging Hispanic community, whose football fan base is growing much larger every year, whatever honors of achievements the few Latinos in football can claim, means a lot to this burgeoning group of American citizens. Tom Flores is - to many Mexican Americans - a living football legend that has inspired many Latinos to excel in that sport, among other professional endeavors! While many who vote for players to be inducted into the National Foot Ball Leagues Hall of Fame may not recognize Flores' accomplishments as being sufficient to qualify for that honor, he has played with, coached, and inspired many players and coaches who are now in the Hall of Fame, including Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Dave Casper, Mike Haynes, Ted Henricks, Howie Long, Jim Otto, Art Shell and Gene Upshaw. Although Jim Plunkett has not been inducted, all of pro football acknowledges that Tom Flores was responsible for resuscitating Plunkett's career, who was the Super Bowl MVP in 1984.

Flores graduated from the University of the Pacific in 1958, but was unable to find a job in professional football. He was cut by the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL in 1958, and then by the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL) in 1959. In 1960 Flores finally landed a position as a quarterback with the American Football League's Oakland Raiders, who began play in 1960 as a charter member of the league. Flores became the first Hispanic quarterback in American professional football. He became the Raiders' starting quarterback early in the 1960 season.

Flores (who can claim four Super Bowl rings) had his most productive season in 1966. Although he completed only 49.3 percent of his attempts, he passed for 2,638 yards and 24 touchdowns in 14 games. Oakland traded him to the Buffalo Bills in 1967. After serving primarily as a backup, he was released by the Bills and in 1969 signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he was back up to Len Dawson on the Chiefs' World Championship team, where he earned his first Super Bowl ring. He retired as a player after the 1970 season. He was one of only twenty players who were with the AFL for its entire ten-year existence. He is the fifth-leading passer, all-time, in the AFL. As published in The Latino Journal E-News and Vida de Oro/Life of Gold Blog

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Q: Who was the first hispanic head coach in the NFL?
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