Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 21, 2008
More on Upshaw and practice

ALAMEDA - As you could imagine much of the day was spent talking about the loss of Gene Upshaw.

Here's what others had to say:

Raiders assistant defensive backs coach Willie Brown, who was also Upshaw's roommate.

On Upshaw's leadership qualities:

"I saw that right away with Gene because I was the one who recommended that he be my alternate as a player rep. He fought me for a while, saying 'No, I don't want anything to do with it.' But when I got elected to the executive board to the players association I told Gene, 'I need you to be the player rep.' Because I saw those qualities that other people hadn't seen. I knew right away that Gene had the leadership and qualities to be a leader on and off the football field. That's why we picked him as one of the captains of the team."

On what players of the last 20 years owe to Upshaw:

"They owe him his loyalty, his dedication, his determination to fight for the players and that's what he did, for the old players and the new players. They have to realize the things that he went through as a player trying to get things done to better it for the players coming out today. Things like that really stick out in my mind. Players should realize the impact he had on their lives and the older players lives."

On how Upshaw changed the guard position:

"In the NFL, you don't find too many players playing that position who would go in the Hall of Fame right away. Gene was eligible within five years, and he went in right away. So, I used to tease him, because I went in earlier than he did, I said, 'Well, he might make it.' We knew all along, when Mr. Davis drafted Gene Upshaw, we knew that we had an extraordinary type of ball player and that would be set in that particular spot for the rest of his career. That's why we drafted him. That's why we saw the things that Mr. Davis did. A lot of people didn't go into those small schools at that time, but Mr. Davis had the intuition and the idea knowing that getting him would be a great player, and he didn't have to worry about that spot any longer. One other reason was that, in the league the Kansas City Chiefs had a player by the name of Buck Buchanon, who was my teammate at Grambling. So, we needed somebody to control Buck Buchanon. That's the first thing that Mr. Davis thought in his mind: A guy like Gene Upshaw can contain him, can stop him."

On Upshaw as a roommate:

"Being a rookie I made him do all the extra duties, go out and get my car washed, wash my clothes, make the bed and go cook when we needed to eat. That was the thing about Gene. He just did everything I wanted him to do as a rookie. He tried to roll over me a couple of times when he tried to roll around and I tricked him. We didn't speak for a couple of days because he got me blind-sided one time. Being roommates, I'd walk in the room and he'd go to sleep or he'd leave. Or he'd walk in and I'd leave. For a couple of days we went through that."

Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin on Upshaw:

"Obviously a very tragic loss for everyone in the NFL, especially the Raiders, was such a great player here, meant so much to this organization, as well as being a great person, too. There are so many things that he's done, but the thing that sticks out to me is that everyone who has been around here, before with him, my few interactions with him, a quality person and has meant so much to older players as well as younger players."

Hall of Fame coach John Madden:

"It was a real shock waking up this morning and hearing that Gene
had passed away. And it was such a shock because we all talk about
Raiders, and Raider family, and team being family and when something
like this happens, you realize that you really are family. Today we
lost someone in our family.

Gene was a great player. He was an All-Pro. He was a Hall of Famer. If
you look at the history of the NFL you're going to find out that he was
one of the most influential people that the league has known. He did so much, not only for the players, but also for the owners, the teams, and the game of pro football. In that, he is obviously going to be missed.

He was respected by everyone, because as a player he was a tough guy,
and as the union head he was a tough guy. But he was also smart, and he could compromise, and he could make things happen. This is deeper than head of the union passing away, and it's deeper than an ex-player. This is missing someone that is and was like family. It's a tough day for all of us."

Practice notes

*Today was the final day of scout team work before Saturday night's preseason game. As a result there were plenty of false starts by the scout team offense and a few turnovers. Kirk Morrison, Michael Huff and Ricky Brown all had interceptions.

*There were three dropped passes in seven-on-seven by the offense. Drew Carter, Zach Miller and Johnnie Lee Higgins were the offenders.

*The usual list of injured Raiders this week (K Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler, CB John Bowie, LB Grant Irons, S Hiram Eugene, WR Arman Shields) will not play Saturday against Arizona.

WR Drisan James missed practice because he was ill.

*Kiffin said the plan on offense is to throw the ball this weekend. Defensively, Kiffin is going to try to make life difficult for Arizona QB Matt Leinart, who played under Kiffin at USC.

"Yeah, we're going to go old school Buddy Ryan, as they call it around here," Kiffin said. "And we'll come after him every snap and put a bounty in the locker room on him."

That's a joke, people.

*S Tyvon Branch was left shaking his hand after hitting the football with his cast.

Branch doesn't know how long he'll have to wear the cast.

But Kiffin obviously wants it off.

"It's still something really hard to do, to be able to tackle with that," Kiffin said. "What I miss the most is I know he can tackle, I wish he was back there returning kickoffs for us, and getting through rookie mistakes back there right now."

Higgins will continue retuning kickoffs in place of Branch. Kiffin just hopes Higgins holds on to the ball this week.

*I love the coaching style of James Lofton. Even when the receivers are simply running routes for the scout team, he's on them about running the proper route and technique.

--Jason Jones

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

Raiders stories on

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31