Remember Gene Upshaw


Popular among the players?  Not exactly.  Popular among the league?  Probably not.  Gene Upshaw the former Oakland Raider Hall of Fame guard and NFLPA Executive Director has died at the age of 63.  Upshaw, known for taking a very vocal and hard stand in dealings with the NFL, most recently the Collective Bargaining Agreement, passed away only days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"In 1983, he became executive director of the players’ association and guided it through the 1987 strike that led to replacement football. By 1989, while the union was pressing in court for a settlement, the league implemented a limited form of freedom, called Plan B. In 1993, when a new contract was finally hammered out, free agency and a salary cap were instituted. –"

Upshaw was recently the target of several veteran NFL players ire and some began work toward replacing the long time union chief.  Upshaw had said he would not leave quietly and had already planned a meeting to update players on the current situation with the CBA shortly before the start of the regular season.

Upshaw was the primary negotiator of every CBA since free agency began, and in fact, was the chief negotiator of the original free agency back when “Plan B” was used.  He is credited with the increased salary and riches that the NFL players currently receive.  The owners pulled out of the current CBA a few months ago after the end of last season.

While not the most popular man in league circles he was still respected for his harsh nature and constant fight for the players.  He was often criticized of late for not doing more for ex-players or for veterans.

Upshaw was diagnosed only last Sunday of his condition.

Here is what the Commissioners of the league had to say:

"“Gene Upshaw did everything with great dignity, pride, and conviction,” Roger Goodell said. “He was the rare individual who earned his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame both for his accomplishments on the field and for his leadership of the players off the field. He fought hard for the players and always kept his focus on what was best for the game. His leadership played a crucial role in taking the NFL and its players to new heights.”"

"“Few people in the history of the National Football League have played the game as well as Gene and then had another career in football with so much positive impact on the structure and competitiveness of the entire league as Gene,” former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said."

From all of us at, may he rest in peace and may his family and friends find faith to support their healing.