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Gene Upshaw

Born: 1945-08-15 - Died: 2008-08-20
Cause of Death:
Pancreatic Cancer

Death Summary: Eugene Thurman Upshaw Jr. died on August 20, 2008 from pancreatic cancer, though there was no public knowledge of his illness. The NFL confirmed his death at 8:30 a.m. EST.

Who was Gene Upshaw : Upshaw was a former football player, who played with the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League and the National Football League for 16 years. During his career he had the privilege of playing in three Super Bowls - 1967, 1976 and 1980.

Upshaw was a member of the bargaining committee for the National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA). He was an instrumental part in the deal that brought a salary cap across the league as well as for the right to free agency, and an enhanced share of league revenues.

In 2006 Upshaw alienated many of the retired players. 325 former AFL and NFL players only got minimal retirement benefits. When they attempted to contact Upshaw about their concerns he stated, “I don’t work for them. They are not union members and they have no vote.”
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5 Signatures in Gene Upshaw's guestbook

  1. Leslie Brumfield Says:

    I was young in his playing days but, his name was familiar to me. Enough so that I came here. My Condolences

  2. Arthur R Gamble JR Says:

    I pray for the family’s strength and encourage you to hold on to the liftime of lessons and memories Gene provided. Although these times are difficult he lived every minute of his life in a manner that gave you a clear path to follow. To all of Gene’s family at the NFLPA rest assured your leader wold not have left you until he knew you were ready to carry on. Athelia and NFLPA staff our prayers are with you all continue on with confidence rembering the many lessons and examples you have been privy to. I had the opportunity to work in the Raiders organization while completing law school and I was a certified NFLPA Contract Advisor/agent during the early 90’s and through 2005. As a member of the Raider and NFL family we all share a tremendous loss but have an opprotunity realize the tremendous blessings we have in the associations we have with each other. Cherish the memories we have of Gene and value each minute we have together. I thank Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, George Atkinson, Henry Lawrence, Jack Tatum, Morris Bradshaw, Carolyn Paul, Jeff Birren, Mike Taylor, Amy Trask and Mr. Al Davis for allowing me into the Raider family and each of your lives I value the relationships. The impact of every minute spent is eternal.

  3. Emily Says:

    he’s old and ugly :3 and his ears could make him fly D:

  4. Massacre Says:


  5. Agung Says:

    Tony, you and the guys at fourth and goal paslee keep providing this important information. Hopefully more retired guys who played in the late 90 s and before will not only see what the NFLPA is doing. But will also let guys know that we’re in a position (if we unite and get more involved) to provide important benefits to the guys who paved the way for these young cats to sign these $50-$60 millions dollar contracts.One point of correction as it related to Mr. Harrison, even though he did get a credited season pre-1993, under the current Legacy Fund Resolution as it is written, he would not qualify for the $1,000 or $2,000 monthly increase, unless he is currently receiving his pension. Moving on, there is no doubt that the NFL Players Association is concerned about players’ post-professional career. They just don’t care about the players of pre-2000, look at the facts; all players who are vested after 2000, has or will receive higher compensation on their pension, annuity, second career saving plan, 5 free years of health insurance and an additional $300,000 of health reimbursement for the rest of their life. In Mr. Richardson’s letter he stated “I think it’s important that a lot of the younger guys teach some of the older guys that the young guys do care, they are not selfish and they will continue to give through the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. It’s important because those guys in the past who gave are benefiting from it now in terms of leadership and it has come through a big change.” If the “younger guys” do care about the older guys and they are not selfish, they should treat us like they treat their parents, who help pave the way for them to become professional athletes. Most guys show their parents their appreciation by making sure that their needs are being addressed, needs such as health care and medical benefits, a better standard of living and respect. We as retired players are not asking for a house, a car or vacation trip that comes at the players’ expense. Although it would be nice and I won’t turn it down if it was given. What we are asking for is the same increased benefits and added benefits that you will receive once you retire. It’s saddens me to see players like Jim Brown, Earl Campbell and thousands of others that are in the condition they are in and the NFLPA is fighting hard against any additional support for these guys. When I see the players before a game attempting to send a message that they are as ONE, I asked the question of; “Am I, Jim, Earl and others who played before me and after me still considered part of that ONE?” Our likeness and image are still being used and the same fans that cheered on the current players were once our fans and they still remember and respect those who played as non-millionaires. But do we as retired players really believe the new Executive Director and his staff would be sympathetic to us, considering how they either contributed to or allowed the harsh treatment of one of our own brothers’, teammate and successful Past-President of the NFLPA during the search for a new executive director? I need to remind everyone that one of and the most important reason why Gene Upshaw and Troy Vincent relationship went sour was because Troy, while being groomed as Gene’s successor saw Gene and his staff was not addressing the needs of the retired players. Although Gene is no longer there, those under his administration are, along with the new members who have never played the game and are clueless about the harsh realities of what those who have played the game are going through. Retired players, we need to unite and support the NFL Alumni Association so that they can make sure that we have a seat at every table when the NFL and the NFLPA meets, to make sure that we are involved in the process and that our needs are addressed.

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