Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Whenever someone dies it's customary, regardless of whether they were loved or loathed, to speak reverentially out of respect to their memory and their loved ones.
The sudden passing of controversial NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw late Wednesday elicited a somber reaction. Players and alumni who despised Upshaw's tactics so much they publicly ridiculed him quickly turned contrite.
At least one adversary, however, declined to observe the traditional bereavement moratorium.
"Gene was not totally a guy whose interest with the players was always there," former Miami Dolphins running back Mercury Morris told the Palm Beach Post for Friday's edition.
"I'd like to put some sugar all over it and do like people do when someone passes away, but the legacy he is leaving is not one people would want to pick up and run with. ... When I heard about his passing, I thought to myself that it is unfortunate he had to pass away now because we as former players were looking forward to the fight with the guy."
Upshaw became a lightning rod for criticism in recent years. Retired players railed against the NFLPA for not taking care of its destitute brothers. Many current players wanted to overthrow Upshaw because they felt misled on various issues.
In his column, Dave George also spoke with former Dolphins safety Dick Anderson, who served as NFLPA president in 1976 and '77 when Upshaw was vice president, and with former Dolphins defensive end Manny Fernandez, who replied "No comment" when asked about Upshaw's legacy.