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Gene Upshaw Passes Away

Gene Upshaw, a Hall of Famer and the NFLPA's Executive Director, passed away last night from pancreatic cancer.  He was only diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last Sunday after going to the emergency room to find out why he hadn't been feeling well for about a week.  Upshaw was 63 years old.

His outstanding 15-season playing career was entirely with the Oakland Raiders and included two Super Bowl wins and seven Pro Bowl appearances. Upshaw's biography was posted on the front page of the Hall of Fame Web site Thursday along with his enshrinement speech from 1987.

In 1983, he became executive director of the players' association and guided it through the 1987 strike that led to replacement football. By 1989, the players had a limited form of freedom, called Plan B, and in 1993, free agency and a salary cap were instituted.

Since then, the players have prospered so much that NFL owners recently opted out of the latest labor contract, which was negotiated two years ago by Upshaw and then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

At this time, "there is nothing in place" in regards to a successor being named.