Eugene Thurman Upshaw, Jr. (August 15, 1945 - August 21, 2008), born in Robstown, Texas was a former American football guard, who played for the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League and the National Football League for 16 years after graduating from Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville). He played in three Super Bowls; in the 1967, 1976 and 1980 seasons. He also played in three AFL Championship Games, seven American Football Conference title games, one AFL All-Star game, and six NFL Pro Bowls. He was selected by The Sporting News' to the 1969 AFL All League team.
Upshaw is currently the only player in Pro Football history to play in three Super Bowls with the same team in three different decades. In 1999, he was ranked number 62 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
He was an active member of the bargaining committee for the National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. He led the NFLPA in its unsuccessful strike in 1987 and through years of anti-trust litigation against the league, including a brief period in which the NFLPA became a professional association rather than a union, that ended with the union's acceptance of a salary cap in return for free agency and an enhanced share of league revenues for the union's members. Until his death, he was the Executive Director of the Association.
Upshaw was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate fraternity established for African Americans.
In 2004, the NCAA Division II sports information directors awarded the first Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year award.
On August 21, 2008, Gene Upshaw died. He had been fighting pancreatic cancer.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Terri, and their three sons Eugene, Justin and Daniel. He was our brother and our leader. We'll miss you Gene!
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