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Gene Upshaw Passes: Shocking

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From the department of things I never saw coming:

The Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, Gene Upshaw, has died suddenly of pancreatic cancer. Gene was a Hall of Fame offensive guard with the Oakland Raiders, playing from 1967-1981.  His tenure with the NFL Players Association is marked with highs and lows, going from the failed players strike of 1987 to the very sucessful development of the Salary Cap.  Gene's relationship with Paul Tagliabue gave the NFL over twenty years of labor peace.

Of course, Jaguars fans might not have the highest sense of approval for Upshaw, his insistance on protecting and expanding the players share of team revenue is one of the financial factors that hamper the Jaguars ability to spend on the same level as other teams.  Gene was also unclear about his stance on limiting rookie salaries, something that hits very close to home.

But we'll morn the passing of a Hall of Famer and a man who fought to break the financial stranglehold of league owners.  We might disagree with his tactics and his styles, but his interest was giving the fair share to the players who are on any given snap, one play away from a broken neck.

So today, our hearts go out to the Upshaw family.  Here's to you Gene!