Gene Upshaw the Ambassador of the Game

Like many, I awoke this morning to hear the sad news that Gene Upshaw had passed away. I did not know Upshaw personally or anything, but I watched him so much as a Raider, I feel like I lost a friend.  He was a legendary Raider that prevented would be tacklers from getting to the quarterback and consistently, with Art Shell, opened gaping holes for a running game that was nearly unstoppable.

Seven Pro Bowls, eleven all league or all conference selections, he was a pivotal cog on an offensive line that made it to the Super Bowl three times and won two while he held down the fort left of center.  It nearly seems appropriate that the Raiders’ and possibly the NFL’s greatest player to ever wear the number 63 also passed away at the age of 63.

Upshaw is part of the NFL’s 75 Year Anniversary All Time team, was the captain of the Raiders offensive unit for eight years.  During the fifteen years he spent as a Raider, the team went to the playoffs 11 times, won 8 divisional titles, one AFL Championship, two AFC titles, and two world championships.  He’s the only player in NFL history to participate in three different Super Bowls in three different decades.

This writer spent many Sundays watching Upshaw and the great Art Shell sweep right or sweep left and throwing lead blocks for Raider runners. It was sight for the football fan’s eyes.

Later after his playing days were over Upshaw was pivotal in getting many things done for the players in NFL as head of the (NFLPA) National Football League Players Association.

Player’s salaries have risen to unbelievable amounts while protected with pensions after three years of service. A rookie can now make a league minimum of $200,000.00 which was never the case when Upshaw came into the league. Over the years Upshaw worked behind the scenes and helped make the NFL one of the best systems in all of professional sports.

I think one of the greatest accomplishments Upshaw achieved as chief of the NFLPA is that the NFL marketing arm is both the owners and players walking hand in hand.

Gene Upshaw promoted all this unity between the players and the owners. He always worked on the belief that what was good for the players was good for the league and what was good for the league was good for the players. This was a tough act to balance, but if you grew up watching Gene Upshaw you knew he was a tough guy and could carry the load.

So tonight when we watch our heroes’ on the gridiron, take a moment to remember Gene Upshaw. The player, the pro-bowler, the NFL player executive and the man.

Legends of the Star – Larry Allen

Larry Allen first gained national attention when he led little known, Sonoma State to the Senior Bowl in 1992. The two time All-American starred while playing guard, and in two seasons he only allowed one sack. He set ten different team records that still stand today.
In 1994, Larry Allen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft, making him the first NFL player ever to be selected from Sonoma State. He made an immediate impact on the team and was soon considered to be the NFL’s premier offensive lineman. He is widely recognized as the one of the best offensive lineman in NFL history and is certainly the best offensive lineman the Dallas Cowboys have ever had. He was the biggest part of an offensive unit that has posted the four lowest sacks allowed totals in club history with 18 in 1995, 19 in 1996 and 1998, and 20 in 1994.
Allen is widely credited for the success of Emmitt Smith with his unparalleled play as his lead blocker, and played a role in eight of his eleven 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Allen, was also able to bench press 700 pounds, and is considered to be the strongest man to ever play professional football.
In his 12 year career, Larry Allen was selected to 11 Pro Bowls and is just the third player in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at more than one offensive line position during his career. Only Bob Lilly had more Pro Bowl selections than Larry Allen. He is the most decorated offensive lineman in Dallas Cowboys history.



Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.