Gene Upshaw

Eugene Josiah Upshaw Jr. (August 15, 1945 – August 20, 2008), also known as "Uptown Gene" and “Highway 63”, was an American football player for the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League (AFL) and later the National Football League (NFL). He later served as the executive director of the National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA). In 1987, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is also the only player in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl in three different decades with the same team.

Gene Upshaw
Gene Upshaw
No. 63
Personal information
Born:August 15, 1945
Robstown, Texas
Died:August 20, 2008 (aged 63)
Lake Tahoe, California
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:255 lb (116 kg)
Career information
High school:Robstown (Robstown, Texas)
College:Texas A&M-Kingsville
AFL draft:1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 17
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:217
Games started:207
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early life

Upshaw was born in Robstown, Texas, and graduated from Robstown High School.[1] He played college football at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville), where he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In 1967 at age 22, Upshaw married Jimmye Lee Hill-Upshaw (née Hill).[2] Together they had one son, Eugene Upshaw III, and later divorced.[2]

Football career

After playing football in college at a number of offensive line positions, he settled at left offensive guard for the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League and the National Football League for 15 years. During that time, he played in three Super Bowls; in the 1967, 1976, and 1980 seasons, making him the first player to reach the game in three different decades (Jerry Rice and Bill Romanowski would later accomplish the feat in 2003). He also played in three AFL Championship Games, seven American Football Conference title games, one AFL All-Star game, and six NFL Pro Bowls. He was selected by The Sporting News' to the 1969 AFL All League team.

He was part of a particularly strong offensive line during the 1976 season, with interior linemates Dave Dalby at center and George Buehler at right guard. In the 1976 AFC championship game of the 1976–77 NFL playoffs, the Raiders beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, rushing for 157 yards and passing for 88 yards. The Raiders then beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI, rushing for a whopping 266 yards and passing for 180 yards, as Upshaw overwhelmed the opposing defensive tackle, Alan Page, a Hall-of-Famer. In the 1980 AFC championship game of the 1980–81 NFL playoffs, the Raiders beat the San Diego Chargers, rushing for 138 yards and passing for 261 yards. The Raiders then beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV, rushing for a 117 yards and passing for 261 yards again, as Upshaw, Dalby, and right guard Mickey Marvin outmatched Eagle nosetackle Charlie Johnson and inside linebackers Bill Bergey and Frank LeMaster.

In 1999, he was ranked No. 62 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

He was the older brother of Marvin Upshaw, who was a defensive lineman with the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Cardinals.

Over the course of his sixteen seasons in the NFL, Upshaw witnessed—and, in many cases, participated in—many iconic NFL games and plays. These include the Heidi Game, the Immaculate Reception, The Sea of Hands Game, Ghost to the Post, the Holy Roller Game, and Red Right 88. He also reached three Super Bowls in three different decades (1967, 1976, and 1980); in total, Upshaw played in 24 playoff games with the Raiders.

NFLPA career

Upshaw was an active member of the bargaining committee for the National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. He led the NFLPA in its unsuccessful strike in 1987 and through years of anti-trust litigation against the league, including a brief period in which the NFLPA became a professional association rather than a union, that ended with the union's acceptance of a salary cap in return for free agency and an enhanced share of league revenues for the union's members. Until his death, he was the Executive Director of the Association.

In an infamous 1987 incident during labor negotiations between the NFL and the NFL players association (NFLPA), Dallas Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm told Upshaw, “Gene, here’s what you have to understand: we’re the ranchers and you’re the cattle, and we can always get more cattle.” [3] [4]

He alienated many retired players after comments he made in response to 325 former AFL and NFL players receiving minimal retirement benefits. When the former players attempted to have the league and the Association consider their plight, Upshaw responded: "The bottom line is I don't work for them. They don't hire me and they can't fire me. They can complain about me all day long. They can have their opinion. But the active players have the vote."[5] Upshaw later said he was misquoted and was speaking solely about fellow Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure, further saying "A guy like DeLamielleure says the things he said about me; you think I'm going to invite him to dinner? No. I'm going to break his damn neck."[6] While Upshaw's comments were true on the letter of the NFL's benefit rules—the NFLPA is charged with the union rights of active players, and any matters dealing with retirees are subject to negotiations between the NFLPA and the NFL Management Council—they were badly received by both former and current players, fans, and the media. Prior to his death, a campaign was allegedly being led by Ravens kicker Matt Stover to oust Gene Upshaw as head of the NFLPA; however, all parties have denied such a plan. Stover along with a number of other players claim to have only been seeking a definite succession plan in order to avoid a drawn out and messy transfer of power such as Upshaw's death has seen realized.[7] Tennessee Titans center Kevin Mawae, president of the NFLPA, had denied reports of mass callings from players for Upshaw to step down.

Hall of Fame and other honors

Upshaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

In 2004, the NCAA Division II sports information directors awarded the first Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year award. It is presented each year during the weekend of the NCAA Division II Football Championship by the Manheim (Pennsylvania) Touchdown Club.


In mid-August 2008 at his home in Lake Tahoe,[8] Upshaw began to feel ill. His wife Terri (née Buich) noticed that his breathing was labored, so she convinced him to go to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on August 17. On August 20, Upshaw died with Terri and his sons Eugene III, Justin, and Daniel by his side, five days after his 63rd birthday.[9]

In 2011, his son Eugene Upshaw III filed a lawsuit in Fairfax County Circuit Court regarding how the will was handled at the time of his father's death, stating his father was too ill to be able to understand the document he was signing.[10][11] The case was settled out of court prior to the trial, but the facts of the case created more conflict between retired players and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), with several prominent retired players/advocates lashing out at Upshaw and his family for a $15 million payment in his will and citing the large number of disabled and broke veterans who had no resources; however, the reporting also showed that the $15 million was a deferred payment from Upshaw's long tenure as the NFLPA head and the money was taken out of his salary during that time and served as a de facto pension separate from the issues that were causing controversy.[11]


Gene Upshaw GU patch

After his sudden death, the NFL announced that for the opening weekend of the 2008 season, all 32 teams would wear a patch on the left chest of the jerseys with the initials "GU" and the number 63, Upshaw's jersey number with the Oakland Raiders; the patch was also painted onto every NFL field for Week 1.[12] Beginning in the second week of the season, all teams wore the patch as a decal on their backs of their helmets instead of a shoulder patch; the Raiders continued to wear the patch on their shoulder throughout the season.

See also


  1. ^ "Gene Upshaw". Archived from the original on April 8, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Remains of Former Star's Ex Wife Found". Gadsden Times. October 31, 2002. Retrieved October 28, 2015 – via google news.
  3. ^ Meggyesy, David (July 27, 2011). "How Players Won the NFL Lockout". The Nation. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Johnson, Greg (August 22, 2008). "Raider star later led NFL players union". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  5. ^ Ex-players say NFL neglects retirees: Hall of Famers: League, union leader fall short in providing benefits Archived August 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Colston, Chris (August 13, 2007). "NFL retirees feel forgotten as fight for benefits rages". USA Today. Retrieved August 21, 2008.
  7. ^ Hall of Famer Upshaw loses battle with pancreatic cancer
  8. ^ Arnold, Laurence; Kuriloff, Aaron (August 21, 2007). "Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw, Head of NFL Players' Union, Dies". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved August 21, 2008.
  9. ^ Battista, Judy (August 21, 2007). "Gene Upshaw, N.F.L. Union Chief, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2008.
  10. ^ "Gene Upshaw's Will – or was it really his Will?". Pennsylvania Fiduciary Litigation. June 15, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Jackman, Tom (May 4, 2011). "Gene Upshaw had $15 million fund from NFL players union". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  12. ^ NFL players to wear uniform patch this season in honor of Upshaw

External links

1967 Oakland Raiders season

The 1967 Oakland Raiders season was the team's eighth in Oakland. Under the command of second-year head coach John Rauch, the Raiders went 13–1 (an AFL record) and captured their first Western Division title. The addition of strong-armed quarterback Daryle Lamonica greatly energized the Raiders' vertical passing game. Additionally, the Raiders added Gene Upshaw, Willie Brown, and George Blanda to their roster during the 1967 offseason. All three players would eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame.

The Raiders routed the Houston Oilers in the 1967 AFL Championship Game. The victory allowed them to advance to Super Bowl II, where they were soundly defeated by the NFL champion Green Bay Packers. The Raiders would ultimately finish the season with a record of 14–2.

The 1967 season was a massive breakthrough for the Raiders organization. Between 1967 and 1985, the team would go on win twelve division titles and three Super Bowl championships.

1972 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1972. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1972.

1974 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1974. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1974.

1977 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1977. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP and NEA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1977.

Brandon Barnes (offensive lineman)

Brandon Barnes (born February 28, 1985) is a former American football offensive tackle. He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He played college football at Grand Valley State.

Barnes was also a member of the Green Bay Blizzard and Indianapolis Colts.

Chad Brown (American football official)

Chadwick Curtis "Chad" Brown Jr. (September 9, 1947 – September 9, 2016) was a National Football League official who officiated from 1992 through 2014. Brown served as an umpire and officiated in two Super Bowls (2001 and 2011) and served as an alternate (standby) official for Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999. He wore uniform number 31.

Prior to his career as an NFL game official, Brown officiated football in the Big West Athletic Conference. He played college football at East Texas State, now Texas A&M University–Commerce. As a sophomore offensive and defensive tackle in 1966, A&M Commerce won its very first Lone Star Conference football championship. Brown was a NAIA All-American, an All-Lone Star Conference offensive lineman in 1967 and '68 and a Kodak All-American in 1968, becoming the first African-American to reach All-American status for the college. His athletic accomplishments earned him a 1993 induction into the East Texas State (ETSU) Athletic Hall of Fame. Brown then was on the preseason rosters in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Houston Oilers, and the New Orleans Saints.

Outside of the NFL, Brown was employed at the University of California, Los Angeles, campus since 1988, and celebrated his retirement in 2011. At UCLA, he served in several sports management capacities in the Department of Cultural and Recreational Affairs and as an Executive Officer to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.

In December 2012, Brown was inducted into the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame, joining other NFL inductees, Tim Brown, Charles Haley and Gene Upshaw (posthumous). Brown, along with eleven other inductees in various sports, was recognized for exemplary performance in sportmanship, citizenship, and contributions to the history of sports as a Texas-born, African-American athlete.

Darius Allen

Darius Allen (born April 8, 1992) is an American professional gridiron football defensive end playing for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

Doug Allen (American football)

Douglas Ferguson Allen (born November 13, 1951) is a former American football linebacker who played two seasons with the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Bills in the second round of the 1974 NFL Draft. He played college football at Pennsylvania State University and attended Corning Painted Post West High School in Painted Post, New York.Allen, who received a degree in Labor & Employment Relations from Penn State, retired to accept a position with the AFL-CIO. He later joined the NFL Players Association, spending 25 years there and rising to the position of Deputy Director under Gene Upshaw, and President of their Players, Inc. subsidiary. He then spent three years as Executive Director of the Screen Actors Guild before returning to Penn State as a Professor from Practice in Labor.

Gene Upshaw Award

The Gene Upshaw Award is awarded to the best lineman, offensive or defensive, in NCAA Division II college football. The award is presented by the Manheim Touchdown Club and is recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The award is named after former NFL offensive lineman Gene Upshaw, who played college football at Texas A&I University and later for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL. He was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Joe Long (American football)

Joseph R. "Joe" Long (born July 27, 1989) is a former American football offensive tackle. Long attended Wayne State University in Michigan and joined the St. Louis Rams as a free agent as he went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Long attended Lapeer East High School in Lapeer, Michigan, where he played in the 2007 Michigan High School Football Coaches Association All-Star game which earned him a spot on the Second Team All-Flint Metro League and honorable mention AP Class A All-State honors. Long also was a basketball player and was involved in track while in high school.

At Wayne State University, Following his Freshman season in which he earned All-GLIAC Honorable Mention Team and also voted WSU's Co-Offensive Rookie of the Year. Following his Junior season, Long was named to the Honorable Mention All-America team and selected to the Hansen's Football Gazette All-Region Third Team. Following his senior season, he received the 2011 Gene Upshaw Award as the top Division II lineman. He was the GLIAC Offensive Lineman of the Year also his Senior season. He also was a member of the Associated Press Little All-America First Team in his senior season. He blocked for three running backs (including current Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell) that rushed for 1,000 yard seasons during his time at Wayne State University.

Long has also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

List of most consecutive starts and games played by National Football League players

This is a list of the most consecutive starts and games played by a player by position in the NFL.Brett Favre's starts streak of 297 games is the longest all-time. Among defensive players, Jim Marshall's starts streak of 270 is the longest all-time. Of special note is punter Jeff Feagles, who played in 352 consecutive games which is the longest of all-time for a special teams player. Special teams players are not credited with starts in the NFL. In 2018, Ryan Kerrigan became the most recent player to surpass someone at his position for consecutive starts, having broken the previous mark for left outside linebackers previously held by Jason Gildon.Updated through 2018 season

Bold denotes an active streak

Marvin Upshaw

Marvin Allen "Marv" Upshaw (born November 22, 1946 in Robstown, Texas) is a former American football defensive lineman in the National Football League. He played nine seasons for the Cleveland Browns (1968–1969), the Kansas City Chiefs (1970–1975) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1976).

He is the younger brother of the late Gene Upshaw, who was an offensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders, executive director of the National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) after retiring as an active player, and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Mickey Marvin

Phillip Michael "Mickey" Marvin (October 5, 1955 – March 6, 2017) was a professional American football player.

National Football League Players Association

The National Football League Players Association, or NFLPA, is the labor organization representing the professional American football players in the National Football League (NFL). The NFLPA, which has headquarters in Washington, D.C., is led by president Eric Winston and executive director DeMaurice Smith. Founded in 1956, the NFLPA was established to provide players with formal representation to negotiate compensation and the terms of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The NFLPA is a member of the AFL–CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States.In the early years of the NFL, contractual negotiations took place between individual players and management; team owners were reluctant to engage in collective bargaining. A series of strikes and lockouts have occurred throughout the union's existence largely due to monetary and benefit disputes between the players and the owners. League rules that punished players for playing in rival football leagues resulted in litigation; the success of such lawsuits impelled the NFL to negotiate some work rules and minimum payments with the NFLPA. However, the organization was not recognized by the NFL as the official bargaining agent for the players until 1968, when a CBA was signed. The most recent CBA negotiations took place in 2011.

In addition to conducting labor negotiations, the NFLPA represents and protects the rights of the players; the organization's actions include filing grievances against player discipline that it deems too severe. The union also ensures that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement are adhered to by the league and the teams. It negotiates and monitors retirement and insurance benefits and enhances and defends the image of players and their profession.

Randy Johnson (quarterback)

Randolph Klaus "Randy" Johnson (June 17, 1944 – September 17, 2009) was an American football player. He was the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons in their inaugural season of 1966. He also had a brief career with the Green Bay Packers. In 1974, he played with The Hawaiians of the World Football League.Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Johnson graduated from its Sam Houston High School in 1962. He played college football at Texas A&I in Kingsville (now Texas A&M–Kingsville), teammates with guard Gene Upshaw.

Johnson entered the 1966 NFL draft, and became the first Texas A&I player to ever be selected in the first round (16th overall). Over his professional career, he completed 647 of 1,286 passes (a 50.3-percentage) for 51 touchdowns and 90 interceptions.

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is a monthly sports newsmagazine on HBO that debuted on April 2, 1995. The show was "spawned by the fact that sports have changed dramatically, that it's no longer just fun and games, and that what happens off the field, beyond the scores, is worthy of some serious reporting," according to Bryant Gumbel, the host.

Richard Berthelsen

Richard A. Berthelsen (born September 14, 1944, in Racine, Wisconsin) is a former interim executive director of the NFL Players Association. Berthelsen assumed the role after the death of Gene Upshaw on August 21, 2008, and left the office on March 16, 2009, when DeMaurice Smith was named as Upshaw's successor. Before becoming interim executive director, Berthelsen had worked for the NFL Players Association since 1972 as a legal counsel and principal assistant.

Robstown, Texas

Robstown is a city in Nueces County, Texas, United States, and a western suburb of Corpus Christi. It was founded about 1906, and was named for Robert Driscoll. The population was 11,487 as of the 2010 census.

The Texas State Legislature officially recognizes Robstown as the birthplace of Texas hold 'em poker.

Robstown High School

Robstown Early College High School is an AAAA secondary school located in the Corpus Christi suburb-city of Robstown, Texas. The school handles grades 9 through 12. RECHS primarily serves the city, yet it enrolls students from nearby school districts such as Banquete, Calallen, Tuloso-Midway, and the census-designated community of North San Pedro. Robstown Early College High School has neighborhood and Advanced Placement programs. The school has gained fame for its mascot, the "Cottonpicker". The Robstown Early College High School marching band is known to be one of the rivals of the HM King High School Brahma marching band. The band is also known as "The Big Red Band From Pickerland." The band has won numerous awards for excellence and has also been awarded "Sweepstakes" status. Robstown Early College High School's student body is primarily Hispanic.

Gene Upshaw—awards, championships, and honors

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