Gene Upshaw....

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Upshaw Paved the Way

July 19, 2006

As legendary Raiders head coach John Madden prepares to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, August 5th, we present a look back at the 16 proud members of the Silver and Black who have previously earned such distinction. We continue with Raiders left guard Gene Upshaw, who was enshrined in 1987.

In the first-round of the 1967 combined AFL-NFL draft, The Oakland Raiders selected Gene Upshaw, a 6'5", 255-pound lineman that had played center, tackle, and end while at Texas A&I.

At the start of the 1967 season, Upshaw was put at left guard and earned the starting job during training camp. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's official web site, Upshaw's size, it was felt, would help neutralize the effectiveness of Ernie Ladd and Buck Buchanan, two huge defensive tackles in Oakland's division.

Over the course of the next 15 years, Upshaw kept his position at left guard and soon became one of the Raiders most valuable offensive linemen, starting in 207 straight regular season games. In all, Upshaw totaled 307 preseason, regular season, and post-season games. Of those 307 games, Upshaw saw action in 24 post-season games, of which were three AFL championship games, seven AFC championship games and Super Bowls II, XI and XV. Upshaw is the only player in NFL history to compete in three Super Bowls over three decades (1967, 1976, and 1980). He also holds the Raider all-time record with 24 playoff game starts.

Upshaw helped pave the way for the Raiders vaunted running attack, which featured the likes of RBs Clarence Davis, Marv Hubbard, Pete Banaszak, Charlie Smith, Kenny King and Mark van Eeghen. Upshaw was also a key factor in pass protection, helping QB Kenny Stabler become the leading passer in Raiders history and earn NFL MVP honors in 1974. He also played in some of the most memorable games in NFL and Raider history including the 1974 Sea of Hands playoff game against Miami, the Holy Roller against San Diego in 1978, and of course, the Heidi Game in 1968.

Upshaw was a proven leader for the Raiders, serving as offensive team captain for nine years (1973-1981) and still today, Upshaw provides leadership while working as the President of the National Football Players Association.

In August of 1987, Upshaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame within his first year of eligibility, making him the second guard to ever be inducted and the fourth Raider player to ever receive the honor. During his 15-year career he aided the Raiders in making 11 playoff appearances, winning eight division titles, one AFL championship, two AFC titles and two World Championships.

Upshaw's success in pro football led him to six Pro Bowls, one AFL All-Star game, All-Pro or All-Conference eight times, and he was selected to the AFL-NFL 25-year All-Star team, the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time and All Monday Night teams.
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