Tom Flores, who coached the Los Angeles Raiders to two Super Bowl victories in nine years, resigned yesterday after the team's worst season in owner Al Davis' 25-year association. There was speculation on the West Coast that Davis would hire the first black head coach in NFL history.

Davis said it would take him some time to name a coach. "I would hope that the Raiders would have a new head coach by the league meetings in March," he said at a news conference at a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport. "I haven't thought about it and I won't discuss it."

Asked if he would hire a black coach, Davis replied: "One characteristic of the Raiders is that race, color, creed and even sex has never interfered with the idea of winning. I want the best people. I want equal opportunity. And I'm going to choose the best person I feel can lead the Raiders organization."

A report on the West Coast said that Davis would hire Dennis Green, a San Francisco 49ers assistant and formerly the head coach at Northwestern University. Green is considered one of the top two black assistants among 41 currently employed in the NFL. The other is Pittsburgh's Tony Dungy.

Since becoming the Raiders coach and general manager in 1963, Davis has hired only three coaches and all three have come out of the Raiders organization: John Rauch, John Madden and Flores. If Davis plans to hire a black coach, he may lean toward former Raiders players and current assistants Art Shell (offensive line) and Willie Brown (defensive backfield).

Focus on naming a black coach sharpened over the weekend when commentator Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder said Friday there would be no room left in sports for whites if blacks became head coaches. Snyder was fired the next day by CBS-TV for that comment and other remarks.

Flores, 50, will remain as a consultant with the Raiders, who finished the season 5-10 and were 8-8 in 1986. It was his second straight nonwinning season after leading the Raiders to three AFC championships and Super Bowl victories in 1980 and 1983.

"Today was a great day because it turned out so well," Flores said at the news conference. "We didn't make it a wake. I'm not burned out, I'm just tired. It's time to go on to another challenge. Obviously the nine years of the pressure cooker have worn me out a little bit, so I'm going to take a little rest. I've won. I think it's time to smell the roses."

Flores said he was not pressured into retiring.

"No one asked Tom Flores to retire," Davis said. "This is what he wanted to do. He was and is a star among stars. In 1979, I told him that no one could do it {coach} for more than 10 years."

NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, appearing at a New York news conference on another subject, said it would be "marvelous" if the Raiders hired Green or another black coach.

"I don't think the time is now -- it was 10 or 15 years ago," Rozelle said. "There haven't been many {black} college coaches and that's slowed the process.

"But there are more now and we have 41 {black} assistants in the NFL now, compared to, what, 10 in 1980."