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The Sports Report: Tom Flores’ long Hall of Fame wait is finally over

Tom Flores, left and his presenter Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis unveil the bust.
Tom Flores and Mark Davis unveil the bust during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Sam Farmer on the NFL: It required more than two silver trophies for Tom Flores to get a gold jacket.

It took a (pirate) shipload of patience too.

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Just wait, baby.

Flores, the soft-spoken Raiders coach who was at the helm for two of the club’s three Super Bowl victories, was inducted Sunday into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a fitting capstone for a trailblazing career that began more than 60 years ago. He was a quarterback and one of 20 men to play all 10 years in the American Football League.

Tom Flores, left and his presenter Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis unveil the bust.
Tom Flores and Mark Davis unveil the bust during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(Associated Press)

During his induction speech Sunday, someone in the crowd cheered at his mention of his Central California hometown of Sanger, just east of Fresno.

“Oh, people from Sanger here?” he said, sounding genuinely surprised. “Long way to come. You ever try to get here. Not an easy place to get to.”

Then, to laughs from the crowd, the 84-year-old coach quipped: “I’ve been trying a long time to get here.”

Although he was wheeled onto the stage in a chair, Flores stood at the lectern on his own strength. He was presented on video by Carol Davis, widow of longtime Raiders owner Al Davis. Their son, Raiders principal owner Mark Davis, presented the coach in person.

The son of Mexican immigrants, Flores was the NFL’s first Hispanic coach, first to win a Super Bowl, then — with the Seattle Seahawks — first to be a general manager and team president.

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All met with … a shrug.

“It wasn’t a big thing when I first started,” said Flores, who was the first person to win Super Bowls as a player, assistant coach and head coach, a feat later matched by Hall of Famer Mike Ditka. “I never thought about it. I never thought I was hired because of my ethnic background. I was hired because of what I could do on the field as a player and as a coach. I still feel that way.”

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Pro Football Hall of Fame class has something for everybody

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DODGERS-ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Dodgers-Angels game: It was a matchup between the Angels’ future and their past, the rookie pitcher they recently called up against the veteran slugger they unceremoniously released earlier this season.

Albert Pujols wasn’t in the Dodgers’ starting lineup against Angels left-hander Reid Detmers on Sunday. But after Justin Turner exited early with left groin discomfort, Pujols came to the plate and made his former club pay.

Pujols hit a two-run home run in the second inning of the weekend’s Freeway Series rubber match, putting a rubber stamp on the Dodgers’ 8-2 win with a 418-foot blast halfway up the left-field pavilion.

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The Dodgers (67-45) had already scored three runs before that. Starting pitcher Walker Buehler was well on his way to a suffocating six-inning, one-run start against a shorthanded Angels lineup.

And Pujols, who was facing the Angels over the weekend for the first time since they cut him in early May, insisted going deep against his former club didn’t have any extra meaning.

“I didn’t put too much thought about it,” Pujols said. “It can look sweet since it’s against your former team, but I don’t look at it like that. I look at it like every time I’m out there, no matter who we’re facing, trying to help our ballclub win.”

GALAXY

Midfielder Kevin Cabral gave the Galaxy a first-half lead when he rolled in a right-footed shot but Vancouver matched the goal in the second half to earn a 1-1 draw on Sunday night in Carson.

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Ranko Veselinovic, a 22-year-old defender, scored his first MLS goal in the 50th minute to salvage the tie for the Whitecaps.

Cabral gave L.A. (10-6-2) a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute but it wasn’t enough to for the Galaxy to extend a three-game home winning streak.

LAFC

LAFC had no answers for the San Jose Earthquake’s Nathan and Javier López, who scored one goal apiece during a 2-1 home win Sunday night.

Coach Bob Bradley’s team is now winless during its past five matches.

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“There’s no doubt we’re frustrated as a group,” Bradley said. “Too many results that we do not find a way to come out on the top.”

Nathan opened the scoring in the 11th minute and López doubled the advantage for the Earthquakes in the 28th.

An own goal in the 39th minute trimmed LAFC’s deficit to 2-1.

While Bradley said his side corrected some issues as the game continued, LAFC was not strong enough in transition to score the equalizer.

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BOBBY BOWDEN

Bobby Bowden was an avuncular yarn-spinner who fused “fast-break” football and Southern charm to transform Florida State into a national college football powerhouse.

By the end of his career, he had more wins, 377, than any major college football coach.

Considered one of the greatest coaches and great characters in the game, Bowden died early Sunday morning at his northwest Florida home surrounded by his family after battling pancreatic cancer, his son Terry Bowden told reporters. He was 91 and had struggled with health issues since falling ill with COVID-19 in late 2020. In July 2021, Bowden told the Tallahassee Democrat he had been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition.

“I’m at peace,” he said.

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1936 — Jesse Owens becomes the first American to win four Olympic gold medals as the United States sets a world record in the 4x100 relay at the Berlin Games. The record time of 39.8 seconds lasts for 20 years.

1950 — Lusty Song, driven by Delvin Miller, wins the Hambletonian Stakes in straight heats over Star’s Pride. Lusty Song wins by a length in the first race and by a neck in the second.

1981 — Larry Nelson beats Fuzzy Zoeller by three strokes to take the PGA Championship.

1984 — Britain’s Daley Thompson wins his second Olympic decathlon with a record 8,797 points and Valerie Brisco-Hooks sets her second Olympic record with a 21.81 time in the 200-meter run.

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1987 — Larry Nelson sinks a 6-foot putt in the first hole of a playoff to beat Lanny Wadkins in the PGA Championship.

1992 — The Summer Olympics ends with the Unified Team holding a 112-108 lead in medals over the United States, the closest race since America won 90-86 in 1964 at Tokyo.

1995 — John Godina becomes the first American to win the shot put event at the World Championships with a toss of 70 feet, 5¼ inches.

2007 — Alexis Thompson becomes the youngest quarterfinalist in the 107-year history of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, beating fellow 12-year-old Pearl Jin 5 and 4 in the second round and Lizette Salas 5 and 4 in the third.

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2007 — David Beckham makes his long-awaited Major League Soccer debut, entering in the 72nd minute of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 1-0 loss to D.C. United.

2008 — Mariel Zagunis leads a U.S. sweep of the women’s saber fencing for the first American medals of the Beijing Games. Zagunis, the 2004 gold Olympic champion, beats Sada Jacobson 15-8 for the gold medal. Becca Ward takes the bronze.

2009 — Jennifer Song becomes the second woman to win two U.S. Golf Assn. championships in the same year, beating Jennifer Johnson 3 and 1 in the U.S. Women’s Amateur final at Old Warson. The 19-year-old Song, coming off her freshman year at Southern California, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in June. Pearl Sinn is the only other woman to win two USGA titles in a year, taking the 1988 Amateur and Public Links.

2010 — No American player appears in the top 10 for the first time since the men’s tennis computer rankings began in 1973. Andy Roddick drops from No. 9 to No. 11 in the latest ATP rankings.

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2012 — Usain Bolt wins the 200 meters in 19.32 seconds, making him the only man with two Olympic titles in that event. He adds it to the 100 gold he won Aug. 5, duplicating the 100-200 double he produced at the Beijing Games four years ago. This time, Bolt leads a Jamaican sweep, with his training partner and pal Yohan Blake getting the silver in 19.44, and Warren Weir taking the bronze in 19.84. The American men take the top two spots in the men’s decathlon (Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee) and triple jump (Christian Taylor and Will Claye), raising the U.S. track and field total with three days to go to 24 medals.

2012 — The U.S. women’s soccer team wins the Olympic gold medal, avenging one of its most painful defeats with a 2-1 victory over Japan. Carli Lloyd scores in the eighth and 54th minutes for the Americans, who lost to the Japanese in penalty kicks at last year’s World Cup final.

2012 — Maggie Steffens scored five times and the U.S. women’s water polo team beat Spain 8-5 to take the Olympic tournament for the first time. U.S. middleweight Claressa Shields caps her swift rise to the top of women’s Olympic boxing with a 19-12 victory over Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova. The 17-year-old Shields dances and slugs her way past her 33-year-old opponent.

2014 — Nick Rimando breaks the MLS record with his 113th shutout in Real Salt Lake’s 3-0 victory over D.C. United. Rimando broke a tie with Kevin Hartman for the record.

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2016 — Michael Phelps adds to his Olympic record medal haul twice. He avenges his London 2012 loss to South African rival Chad le Clos with a 200-meter butterfly victory and his 20th career gold. Then, he anchors the 4x200 freestyle relay team for his 21st gold.

And finally

Tom Flores’ Hall of Fame induction speech. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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