NFC South: Gene Upshaw

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- I'm doing a little radio with Scot Brantley and the Fabulous Sports Babe on ESPN 1470 and we just had former Raiders running back Pete Banaszak as a guest.

Banaszak played with the late Gene Upshaw on those great Raiders teams of the 1970s. Banaszak brought up a great point about Upshaw, who had drawn some criticism from retired players in recent years in his role as the head of the NFL Players Union.

"I wish we had a leader like that," Banaszak said.

That's a good point. Upshaw wasn't responsible for negotiating deals back when he was playing. Banaszak also suggested current players should do a tribute to Upshaw this season.

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Here's some reaction from around the NFC South on the passing of Gene Upshaw.

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank:

"I have great respect for Gene's unprecedented Hall of Fame career. I also admired Gene Upshaw the union leader for his leadership, intelligence and partnership during his 25-year career with the NFL Players Association. Most importantly, I admired Gene Upshaw the person. He was a true gentleman and his contributions to our great game -- first as a high-character, highly-skilled player and later as the head of the players union -- will never be forgotten."

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden talked:

"It's a terrible day. A sad day. It really got me by surprise. I know he's had a tremendous influence, not only on me, but a lot of our players and people in this league. We're going to miss Gene Upshaw, a quality guy. We're all saddened by that."