, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 1987 and the longtime executive director of the NFL Players Association, has passed away at the age of 63. Upshaw was the first who played guard exclusively to earn election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of its own, . Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Terri and their sons, Justin, Daniel and Eugene, Jr., during this time of sadness," stated the Hall's President/Executive Director Steve Perry. "Enshrined in 1987, Gene was a staunch supporter of the Hall of Fame, returning annually to welcome the newest class of enshrinees. He was one of those rare individuals who dedicated his entire life to the sport he loved and will be remembered for his many accomplishments both on and off the field.”
Upshaw was selected in the first round of the 1967 NFL Draft by the and earned the starting left guard spot as a rookie and starred for the team through the end of his 15-season career in 1981. At 6’5”, 255-pounds, Upshaw possessed size, speed, intelligence and intensity. In all, he played a total of 307 pre-season, regular season and playoff games in his NFL career that included 10 AFL/AFC title games and three Super Bowls.
A seven-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s, he was also named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team in 1994.
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STATEMENT BY COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL ON THE DEATH OF GENE UPSHAW
" did everything with great dignity, pride, and conviction. 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. Gene's tremendous love of the game also showed in his wide-ranging support of football at all levels. It is a sad day for the NFL, but Gene's positive impact and legacy will live on for decades to come. All of us in the NFL reach out with our sympathy to Terri and the Upshaw family."
Coverage of Upshaw's passing on NFL.com
Vic Carucci - Media-savvy Upshaw was tough, unrelenting
Thomas George - Upshaw was a Hall of Fame leader
Pat Kirwan - Above all, Upshaw cared about the players
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