NEW YORK -- Gene Upshaw, the Hall of Fame guard who during a quarter century as union head helped get NFL players free agency and the riches that came with it, has died. He was 63.
A Singular Career
Highlights of Gene Upshaw's numerous contributions to pro football for four-plus decades:
• Executive director of NFLPA since June 1983
• Took part in all negotiations leading up to CBA in 1977, '82 and '93 (and extensions in '96, '98, '02 and '06)
• Raiders' first pick in 1967 draft (17th overall; '67 was first combined AFL-NFL draft)
• Played 15 seasons with Raiders (1967-81)
• 7-time Pro Bowler
• 5-time 1st-Team All-Pro
• Won 2 Super Bowls
• Inducted into Pro Football HOF in 1987
• Started 207 straight regular season games from 1967-81
• Played 307 preseason, regular season, and post-season games
• Only player ever to start on championship teams in both the AFL and NFL
• NAIA All-America honors at Texas A&I
Upshaw died Wednesday night at his home in Lake Tahoe, Calif., of pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed only last Sunday, the NFL Players Association said Thursday. His wife Terri and sons Eugene Jr., Justin and Daniel were by his side.
"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."