Class of 2022: Cliff Branch 'loved everything football,' gave back to community

By Daniel May
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Known as a three-sport athlete with exceptional talent in football, baseball and track, CLIFF BRANCH will be enshrined Aug. 6 into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2022. 
Branch had a successful 14-year career as a wide receiver with the Raiders, finishing with 501 receptions, 8,685 receiving yards and 76 touchdowns.  
The late Branch, who is survived by his sister Elaine Anderson, was elected to the Hall of Fame this year as a Senior Finalist.
"He knew he was getting in (to the Pro Football Hall of Fame)," shared Anderson in an interview with Hall of Fame personnel. "He just didn’t know when." 
Branch’s love for the game started when he was just a boy. Anderson mentioned that the perfect Christmas in Branch’s eyes was a one full of football-oriented presents. 
"Cliff loved everything football. Every year for Christmas he asked for a different piece of a football uniform. Eventually he had the whole uniform," Anderson said. "The other kids he played with were so impressed." 
That love only increased as time went on. When the Raiders made it to Super Bowl XI, Branch offered to buy his entire family tickets so they could come support him during his first Super Bowl appearance.  
"His proudest moment was having his family watch him win Super Bowl XI," Anderson said.  
During the Raiders communitywide Super Bowl party, his sister recounted that Branch would let fans try on his coveted ring. She shared that Branch was all about sharing his love for the game with the people that supported him the most.  
Following his playing career, Branch took pride in giving back to the Raiders community. He often lended a hand at charity events and volunteer efforts. 
"After football, he put himself out there to be of service to others. He frequently helped out with a children’s hospital charity," Anderson said.
When his family received the phone call from Hall of Fame President Jim Porter that Branch was a member of the Class of 2022, a weight was lifted. 
"Delayed, but not denied. We are finally at peace," Anderson said. 

Daniel May is a student at Buffalo State University and is an intern this summer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.