Gene Upshaw, 63, died Wednesday night, after battling pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed on Sunday. Upshaw, Hall of Fame guard, played 15 years with the Raiders. He won two Super Bowls, and was named to 7 Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. Two years after he retired, in 1983, he became the NFLPA Executive Director.
“Gene Upshaw did everything with great dignity, pride, and conviction,” NFL commissioner 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.”
He presided over the 1987 replacement player fiasco, but then helped institute free agency and salary cap. He had been criticized for not being tough enough in negotiations. Veterans complained over the benefits. But, no matter how you look at it, football lost a legend.