By BARRY WILNER AP Pro Football Writer
Dallas Cowboys standout pass catcher Drew Pearson and two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Flores are finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2021.
Pearson, who played his entire 11-year career with the Cowboys, is a senior nominee. Flores, the first Hispanic coach in the NFL, was nominated in the newly created coaches category.
An undrafted free agent, Pearson made three All-Pro teams during a career in which he had 489 receptions for 7,822 yards (16 yards per catch). A member of the All-Decade Team of the 1970s, Pearson played in 22 playoff games, making 68 catches and scoring eight touchdowns. The 1977 Cowboys won the championship, with Pearson leading the NFL in receiving yards (870) that season.
Flores had a 105-90 career record with the Raiders and Seahawks. He took the Raiders to Super Bowl victories in 1981 and 1984.
In nine seasons with the Raiders, Flores won 91 games against 56 losses (.619 percentage), including a record of 8-3 (.727) in the playoffs. His career wins total trails only Hall of Famer John Madden in franchise history.
Both Pearson and Flores will be considered for induction at the hall’s selection committee meeting the day before the Super Bowl. To be elected, each must receive 80% of the 48-member votes.
“Thank you for the call. You made my day, and you made my life,” an emotional Pearson said near the end of a call from Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker on Tuesday. “How can I thank you? I’m crying, and I haven’t cried in a long time. Happy tears. I’ve been waiting for this call for so long.”
A total of 18 finalists will be considered: Pearson, Flores, a contributor (to be nominated Aug. 25), and 15 modern-era players to be determined later this year and in January.
The Class of 2021 will be formally enshrined on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021.