Two former NFL players and a coach with central San Joaquin Valley ties are among the 108 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame
This is Neal’s first year of nomination. He retired after the 2008 season.
The Lemoore High grad played 17 seasons with seven teams and had 226 carries for 807 yards and six touchdowns, but was notable for helping Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson to 11 straight 1,000-yard seasons.
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Neal, who played five seasons as the Chargers’ fullback, was at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in August to speak at Tomlinson’s induction.
Ellard, a Hoover High alum, has been nominated before. The three-time Pro Bowler played 11 seasons with the Rams and five with the Washington Redskins and finished with 814 receptions for 13,777 yards and 65 touchdowns. He retired after the 1998 season.
Once again, Flores, 80, is nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Eight times, the Fresno native and Sanger High/Fresno City College alum has failed to make it past the initial cut.
Flores won 97 games, including an 83-53 run with the Raiders from 1979 to 1987. He went 8-3 in the postseason for a .727 winning percentage that ranks second to Vince Lombardi among those who have coached in 10 or more playoff games. Flores and Mike Ditka are the only men to have won Super Bowls as a player, assistant and head coach.
Flores led the Raiders to wins in Super Bowl XV and XVIII.
The nominees will be cut down to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January.
Forty-eight media members vote on the Class of 2018 on Feb. 3 – the day before the Super Bowl in Minneapolis. To gain enshrinement, honorees must receive at least 80 percent of the vote.