The Passing Of Gene Upshaw

By Gregory Moore
Updated: August 21, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — I wanted to take some time out today to send my condolences out to the Upshaw family on their loss.

As many know, over the past few years I have written several articles about the problems that many retired NFL players face and I have had the opportunity to not only speak to some great individuals via e-mail and phone conversations on this topic.

Over that span I have become highly enlightened more about the problem and while I haven’t tackled it lately, I firmly believe that all pro sports unions need to make sure that they take care of the ‘old guard’ and that the current membership have reverence and help financially where they can out of a responsibility to ensure their own future.

While I have never met Mr. Upshaw personally, I have begun to understand the complexities of what he had to do on a daily basis. Some of his decisions I agreed with, a lot of them, I didn’t understand and a few I just said, “huh?” on.

Yet I think that any person, no matter how we may feel about him or her, has a tough job when they are asked to become leaders of large organizations like the NFLPA.

Today however, I’m not talking about Gene Upshaw the executive director of the NFLPA; today I’m talking about the man that many of us knew as a football player.

While we may all be in the midst of our daily routines, let us not forget that we are losing a lot of the “old guard” in our lifetimes. Upshaw was a heck of a football player for the Oakland Raiders in his playing days.

I am sure that even today’s young guns in the league know of his exploits and many may look up to what he did to help forge the league as we know it from a player standpoint.

For guys like me who are fans, I can respect and admire what he did on the gridiron and every Sunday I can see a piece of his career in someone else who is playing the game now.

So I want to say that while I may have had my own qualms and issues about some of his policies as the executive director, let me say that those differences never let me forget what he was as a player and as a man who was doing something that many did not be qualified for.

That was to lead a labor union at a time when many citizens simply did not or still do not understand why grown men are paid large sums of money to play basically a child’s game.

Today, I want to remember Mr. Upshaw for who he was; a man who overcame a lot of odds and who was trying to better his sport.

Today, it is not about his policies as the executive director of the NFLPA but the remembrance of a man who went out and tried fulfill his dream of doing something for the sport he loved in his heart.

May God bless his family, his co-workers and his friends.

No matter how we may feel about him, we can all say that he touched our lives in some fashion.