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Wed, 08.15.1945

Gene Upshaw, Football Player, and Union Leader born

Gene Upshaw

*Gene Upshaw was born on this date in 1945. He was a Black football player and union administrator.

Born Eugene Thurman Upshaw, Jr. in Robstown, Texas, he was the son of Eugene and Cora Riley Upshaw. His father was an oil company employee, and his mother was a domestic worker. After high school, Upshaw graduated from Texas A&I University, Kingsville, with his BS in 1968. He did additional studies at California State University in 1969 and Golden Gate University Law School in 1982. During college (1967), he married Jimmye Hill; they divorce, and he married Teresa Buich in 1986.

After college, he played football as a guard for the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League and the National Football League for 16 years. Upshaw played in three Super Bowls: in 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. Upshaw is the only player in Pro Football history to play in three Super Bowls with the same team in three decades.  He was also an active bargaining committee member 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. In 2006 he alienated many retired players. 325 former AFL and NFL players receive minimal retirement benefits. Gene Upshaw died on August 21, 2008, of cancer. He had three children: (first marriage) Eugene III; (second marriage) Justin, Daniel.

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