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Latino coaches

Latino Coaches like Ron Rivera Follow Tom Flores’ Legacy

Ron Rivera, Brian Flores follow in Tom Flores' footsteps.

In college and professional football, Latino coaches are still in the minority. A little more than 40 years after Tom Flores won his first of two Super Bowl titles with the Raiders, his legacy can still be seen each Sunday in the NFL.

A little history first. Flores, the son of a Mexican immigrant father from Durango and a first-generation mother with roots in Jalisco, was the second NFL coach with Mexican roots.

Flores followed fellow Hall of Famer Tom Fears, who was born in Guadalajara to an American father and Mexican mother. Fears had a distinguished playing career as a split end with the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams and Falcons.

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970, 51 years before Flores joined him in Canton, Ohio. Fears, however, earned his place among the pro football immortals on the strength of his playing career.

Nonetheless, Fears became the first Latino coach in NFL history. He led the Saints from 1967 to 1970, posting a 13-34-2 record.

Sure there are two Latino head coaches in the NFL currently, Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins and Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team. There is also a Latino CFL head, Jaime Elizondo, head coach of the Edmonton Elks.

Pipeline of Latino coaches

But who is next in the pipeline? There are just a small number of Latino NFL assistants. They are all listed here. 

Angulo, Richard  Assistant Offensive Line  Baltimore Ravens 
Salgado, Jim  Nickels Buffalo Bills 
Castillo, Juan  Offensive Line  Chicago Bears
Oliver, Steve Offensive Quality Control Detroit Lions 
Cabrea, Moses Head Strength  New England Patriots
Sullivan, Mike  Quarterbacks  Pittsburgh Steelers
Canales, Dave Wide Receivers  Seattle Seahawks 
Garcia, Cristian  Defensive Assistant  Washington Football Team
Rivera, Vincent “Bug” Defensive Quality Control  Washington Football Team

A few Latinos are in scouting, namely the Kansas City Chief’s Greg Castillo, Juan Castillo’s son. Former UTEP quarterback Sam Garza is a scout with the Dallas Cowboys. Eloy Ledesma of the Detroit Lions and Bobby Vega of the Baltimore Ravens are also NFL scouts.

There are not many Latinos at this level of the sport, as Rice University assistant coach Jim Jackson points out. 

“High schools around Texas and California are littered with Mexican American coaches who are proud of their background,” said Jackson, the son of a Mexican mother. :Sadly, many are not given the opportunity at the highest levels of our profession.”

Here’s hoping that Flores’ induction to the Pro Hall of Fame motivates others to enter and excel in the coaching profession. We most certainly will be watching and highlighting those coaches who seek to grow in the profession. 

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