The NFL has added elements this weekend to honor Gene Upsahw, the late Pro Football Hall of Famer and executive director of the NFL Players Association, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday.
The league announced Monday that all players will wear a special patch for the entire 2008 season containing the initials "GU" and the number "63" (Upshaw's uniform number with the Oakland Raiders) and that a replica of the patch would be painted on the field of the Washington-New York Giants season-opener this Thursday night and at the Denver-Oakland game next Monday night.
Now all 16 NFL stadiums hosting games on Kickoff Weekend will have the replica of the Upshaw patch stenciled on the field. They also will show a video tribute to Upshaw. In addition, one NFLPA player representative per team this weekend will wear a black armband in honor of Upshaw.
On Thursday night, Upshaw will be honored as his wife Terri and his three sons -– Eugene, Jr., Daniel and Justin -- participate in the coin toss prior to the kickoff of the season at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey when the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants. The Raiders will honor Upshaw in their opening game on Monday night when they host the Denver Broncos.
Upshaw died on August 20 at the age of 63. He served as the executive director of the Players Association from 1983 until his death. His leadership helped the NFL and its players attain unprecedented success.
A first-round draft choice of the Raiders in 1967 out of Texas A&I, Upshaw started at left guard as a rookie and was the first player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (in 1987) to play guard exclusively. In 307 career games, he played in three Super Bowls -- winning two -- and seven Pro Bowls.