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Gene Upshaw Dead at 63

Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, has died. Upshaw was 63 and, according to several reports, recently had been battling pancreatic cancer.

An NFLPA official confirmed Upshaw's death to The Post's Mark Maske.

The NFLPA has issued the following statement:

We are deeply saddened and shocked by the sudden and unexpected death of our leader, Gene Upshaw. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Terri, and their three sons - Eugene, Justin and Daniel. Gene learned he was sick just this past Sunday and he died with his family at his side. We ask that the media respect our need to begin the process of dealing with this unexpected tragedy and to begin the grieving process.


By Cindy Boren  |  August 21, 2008; 8:49 AM ET
 
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Next: Gene Upshaw, RIP

Comments

Yep

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 21, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

My condolensces to the Upshaw family.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 21, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

RIP

Posted by: Skinz | August 21, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Very sad day for the NFL, and the Upshaw family.

Posted by: Greg | August 21, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

thoughts and prayers out to his family

Posted by: jm220 | August 21, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

This is a shock. I never herd he had cancer.

Posted by: Alex35332 | August 21, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Very sad and shocking. I met Gene in the street last summer and he was very nice.

Posted by: Lisa | August 21, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Pancreatic cancer is the worst. Unfortunately a diagnosis is pretty much a death sentence. A cure cannot come to quickly.

Condolences.

Posted by: RambleOn | August 21, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

http://www.redskins.com/news/multimedia.jsp?id=37896

Here's a little comic relief for the tense moment.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 21, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Maske: "The deal [negotiated by Upshaw], completed in 2006, guaranteed the players about 60 percent of total league revenues under the salary cap system."

This was a major accomplishment for the players union, and credit is due to Upshaw. In any other industry, even within sports, "employees" are lucky to take home 40% of revenues.

Posted by: RambleOn | August 21, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Thoughts and prayers out to his family.

Posted by: donj1963 | August 21, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Weird timing, no?

Posted by: WrongDog | August 21, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

My condolences to the Upshaw family.

Posted by: Anon the Barbarian | August 21, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Somehow the image of Jerry and Danny in Cabo doing body shots off each others' wives just doesn't sit right with me.

Very sad about Gene.

Posted by: SMACK | August 21, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

te, thanks for posting that. I think with any new venture there is a learning process. Hopefully when it comes to being a successful NFL owner, Dan has learned patience, and has a better understanding of what it takes to win, and win year in and year out.

I'm neither on his payroll, nor do I wish ill will of the man. I think he's trying to do what is best for this team.

All the Wapo drama, and the radio stuff, I don't like in the area, so it doesn't effect me. I have no say on those matters.

Posted by: Greg | August 21, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Current players will be praising Upshaw now that he is dead. You watch, on camera the next few days, they will be so pleased w/ Upshaw.

The truth regarding players?
Many have felt like and stated Upshaw was wanting to merely collect his huge pay check, was not working for the players, and I even heard terms like "Oreo" and "Sell- Out"

Yet, I have no respect for players who felt Upshaw was a traitor.
It's called give and take in negotiations.
Players want it all, and think they deserve it all.
They declare w/out them, you have no product.
Yes, but without owners there is not even a league, avenue or organizations for which you can offer your talents!

Upshaw got the players not only enough but more than they deserve.

How many of you would like to work 9-10 months of the year and be guaranteed the minimum salary NFL players are?

How many of you would love to be guaranteed $15 million when you leave college and have not yet even proven you will be an efficient / effective professional?

Upshaw a sell-out?
No way.

Posted by: RedskinRay1 | August 21, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

NFLPA statement:

We are deeply saddened and shocked by the sudden and unexpected death of our leader, Gene Upshaw. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Terri, and their three sons – Eugene, Justin and Daniel. Gene learned he was sick just this past Sunday and he died with his family at his side. We ask that the media respect our need to begin the process of dealing with this unexpected tragedy and to begin the grieving process.

Posted by: Cindy | August 21, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

How many of you would love to be guaranteed $15 million when you leave college and have not yet even proven you will be an efficient / effective professional?

Posted by: RedskinRay1 | August 21, 2008 9:40 AM

Me! Me! Me! I'd even settle for less -- say $3 million? Can you deliver this, Ray? I'll vote for you.

Posted by: Mull It | August 21, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Just to clarify what Danny was saying. The WaPo commenting on radio stations when they have one is a conflict of interest. Buying all the sports station while owning THE team in the area, not a conflict of interest.

Got it Danny, thanks.

I wonder if he's surrounded himself with so many Yes men that he actually thinks we're all naive enough to be swayed by his shoveling.

Posted by: Skinz | August 21, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

That is scarey. Diagnosed on Sunday (his birthday?), dead on Thursday. Apparently with pancreatic cancer there are few symptoms until it is too late.

Condolences to the family.

Posted by: Mull It | August 21, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

RedskinsRay, that wasn't the nature of the players' criticism of Upshaw. But out of respect, I personally will save that discussion for a later time. Heading into the new CBA discussions, the NFLPA was not of one mind at the top levels. If there can be any silver lining in this, its that his passing may provide a pathway for the NFLPA to develop greater unity.

Of range of cancers you can get, when your doctor says pancreatic, that is the very worst. My thoughts are with his family b/c he cannot have known about this for very long. Pancreatic cancer progresses very quickly and virulently.

Posted by: dcsween | August 21, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

My father died of pancreatic cancer and it does indeed go fast. Not usually four days fast, though....Dad had about eight weeks.

Posted by: Cindy | August 21, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The worst thing in the NFL right now is the amount of money rookies are getting. It's just awful.

I honestly wouldn't mind trading back from the first round for 2 second round picks EVERY YEAR with how ridiculous the 1st roudn contracts are.

Posted by: The Truth | August 21, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Just to clarify what Danny was saying. The WaPo commenting on radio stations when they have one is a conflict of interest. Buying all the sports station while owning THE team in the area, not a conflict of interest.

Got it Danny, thanks.

I wonder if he's surrounded himself with so many Yes men that he actually thinks we're all naive enough to be swayed by his shoveling.

Posted by: Skinz | August 21, 2008 9:47 AM

Conflict of interest or good marketing?

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 21, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

My father died of pancreatic cancer and it does indeed go fast. Not usually four days fast, though....Dad had about eight weeks.

Posted by: Cindy | August 21, 2008 9:56 AM

Gene Upshaw was a strong, tough man and he might have ignored the symptoms for a while. Being diagnosed on a Sunday sounds like he'd checked into an emergency room. Good description here of the symptoms:

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/adult/medical_services/cancer/pancreatic/conditions/pancreas/signs.html

The family must not know what happened.

Posted by: Mull It | August 21, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Thats not always the case. If you catch it in a very late stage its true. My grandfather caught it early about 6 years ago and he recovered.

Posted by: Alex35332 | August 21, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

No wait nm my grandad had prostate cancer

Posted by: Alex35332 | August 21, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Alex, do you know what tipped him off that he had the cancer?

Posted by: Mull It | August 21, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

The Jasons are at Redskins Park. Players were to be available at noon, so we'll get some reaction up here quickly. First, we'll deal with the fact that everyone knew Upshaw. And, obviously, we'll get to addressing the fact that this has enormous implications for the NFL and the union.

Posted by: Cindy | August 21, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Oops, my bad. I typed "noon" when they're actually available at 11.
Good to hear about your grandpa, Alex. Certainly, all cancers, even the highly lethal ones like brain and ovarian, can be survived. Those cases are rare, but they do exist and I would think they're increasingly more common.

Posted by: Cindy | August 21, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Scamp,

It may indeed be good marketing but if you are going to grandstand and say the WaPo had a COI when clearly it's print media coverages credibility far far outweighed it's radio interest then obviously you open youself up to questions regarding the credibility of your radio interests skins coverage.

To say that the WaPo was the only one to raise an eyebrow was ridiculous. The boys over at 980 screamed bloody murder as well. Funny don't hear much about it anymore...

Posted by: Skinz | August 21, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The worst thing in the NFL right now is the amount of money rookies are getting. It's just awful.

I honestly wouldn't mind trading back from the first round for 2 second round picks EVERY YEAR with how ridiculous the 1st roudn contracts are.

Posted by: The Truth | August 21, 2008 9:57 AM_________________________________________

You are so RIGHT, Truth!
I actually posted in the past, I think we should do the same thing. I agree w/ you whole heartedly.

Why pay the extravagant signing bonus and you don't know what you are getting? Heath Shuler for example!

Why not get two players, save the money, and you get two guys who are motivated because they don't have the $5 million signing bonus. They are not 7th rounders but 2nd rounders! It's the way to go!

Right on, Truth.

Posted by: RedskinRay1 | August 21, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Upshaw and Darrell Green both hailed from Houston (or thereabouts) and went to Texas A&I... wonder if Darrell was close to him because of those common roots? Would like to hear from the Skins' 'elder statesmen' on Upshaw...

Also, shame on the NFL for not having game film of its Hall of Famers readily available on line... I want to see some footage of Upshaw the player, and I can't seem to find any. One little clip at NFL.com, and the video of his HOF induction speech at the HOF site.

http://www.profootballhof.com/player/?file_300=http%3A%2F%2Fplay%2Erbn%2Ecom%2F%3Furl%3Dnfl%2Fnfl%2Fopen%2F2003%2Fhof%2Fdemand%2Fva000625%2Erm%26proto%3Drtsp

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | August 21, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The thing about Upshaw is that he never looked particularly healthy. I am struck by the line about the eyes and bile in that link you posted. His eyes were always a little unhealthy looking, if you know what I mean. Certainly, he looked like an aging football player. You could see the battles when he walked. But it was clear that he was a tough guy who didn't give in to aches and pains.

Posted by: Cindy | August 21, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Statement from Roger Goodell:

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.

Posted by: Cindy | August 21, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking about the rookie salary issue this morning for no particular reason. (this is what my mind does before I have had my coffee) I think I came up with a way the NFL could be able to stem the problem.

I think they should simply do an annual rookie salary cap. So you can negotiate a salary but it cant be higher than (X)

One way you could do this:

A rookie can only get paid a salary = to the team cap/53 So this year the cap is around 117 mill. So no rookie would be able to make more than 2.2 mill their first year and the contract would go forward accordingly. One could also do that to cap bonuses and stuff as well.

Another way would be based on median salary which is usually less than 1 million a year according to this sight:

http://content.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/salaries/error.aspx?sortby=TotalPayroll&message=Please%20select%20a%20year%20from%20the%20drop-down%20menu.

Posted by: Alex35332 | August 21, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Not really his Doctor caught it. But he is the type that visits a doctor extremely regularly where as I have not for years.

Posted by: Alex35332 | August 21, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

wouldn't care much about this news (about upshaw) but somehow it kinda sadened me. maybe i'm getting old.

My father died of pancreatic cancer and it does indeed go fast. Not usually four days fast, though....Dad had about eight weeks. Posted by: Cindy | August 21, 2008 9:56 AM

sorry for your loss cindy. that is very scary to think about.

skinz, you're right on about danny. and i have absolutely no idea how wapo buying radio stations compares to danny buying radio stations.

Posted by: dealer | August 21, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

how in the world do you drop the baton at this level? inexcusable. just playing...but the baton exchange is the most fun part to watch...

Posted by: dealer | August 21, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

R.I.P.

Sports Union leaders are the labor heroes of the last 25 years...

Posted by: chrIS lArry | August 21, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Yeah Zeese,

Prostate has an amazing record of survivability. My father was just cleared after a year of treatment.

It has a 95% survival rate. They told him he could have done nothing for 8 more years and still survivied. But it ws stating to spread outside the prostate, so they zapped that Shti and got it gone.

Posted by: Zebra | August 21, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Beep Beep

Posted by: Zebra | August 21, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Snyder's ownership of the area's sports radio stations and the Post's failed partnership with Bonneville over WTWP (Bonneville owned the station and the Post provided content) are like apples to oranges.

Besides, why take pot shots at something that's failed, dead and gone.

Posted by: redskirt | August 21, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Readers: Some of you may noticed that we took down a long comment that was simply a paste of a Wall Street Journal article. We did it because that full reproduction of the article violates copyright regulations -- we ask that other media outlets do not do that with Post stories, too.

Anyway, here's the link to the full piece: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121926203583757663.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

And I think this is the excerpt the anonymous poster wanted people to see, although I can't be sure:

"WSJ: In June you bought a radio station, WTEM, which is a very popular local sports station. There's some concern among fans that it might become a propaganda tool for the Redskins. What do you say to that?

Mr. Snyder: It's actually just the Washington Post. We have a problem in this marketplace with our local newspaper. There's a monopoly. I have no problems saying that. They have been losing circulation by the droves, losing advertising by the pound load and they are desperate to create controversy. They had a Washington Post radio business at the time -- it's since gone out of business -- that was a competitor. We did write them a letter saying obviously you're a competitor, so don't use your newspaper to affect the business. Other than them, you won't find any of that type of talk.

[Note: Leonard Downie, Jr., The Washington Post's executive editor, denies that the Post's radio venture, which ended nearly a year ago, influenced the paper's coverage of the Redskins. "Our coverage is always independent of both outside interests … and independent of other businesses that the Washington Post owns," Mr. Downie said in a telephone interview. "Our readers expect that of us."]"

-- Jon DeNunzio
Sports editor, washingtonpost.com

Posted by: Jon DeNunzio | August 21, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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