Legacy of Gene Upshaw Highlighted in “Highway 63” TV Special
Hall of Famer’s story airs on NFL Network July 20
Special to the Sun
Gene Upshaw’s NFL career, groundbreaking work as executive director of the NFL Players Association, and personal story is told through the people who knew him best in the upcoming “Highway 63 – The Legacy of Gene Upshaw,” scheduled to air July 20 at 10:30 p.m. EST and 7:30 p.m. PST on NFL Network.
Created in association with the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic, the program looks at the life and legacy of the former Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Famer, and includes a segment about the cancer center and a local patient.
Upshaw died Aug. 20, 2008 of pancreatic cancer at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee, Calif., where the Upshaw family had a second home for more than 30 years. Gene’s widow, Terri and sons Justin and Daniel established the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund in recognition of the exceptional care he received at the hospital and to continue his legacy by helping the rural community that cared for him in his final days. The Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund is held with the Tahoe Forest Health System Foundation.
Interviews with family, NFL Hall of Famers Marcus Allen, Tim Brown, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and former teammates, and colleagues at the NFLPA tell the story of some of Upshaw’s biggest moments on and off the field, including the tense standoff for free agency and the establishment of NFL Players Inc.
Since its inception in 2009, the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund has raised over $1.3 million to fund programs and services at the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center and traumatic brain injury research through the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research. The fund’s major event, the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic gathers NFL Hall of Famers, former teammates, and Major League Baseball players and other sports celebrities each July to pay tribute to the football legend. The tournament features one celebrity and four guests on each team playing a shamble format. http://www.gu63.org/
“The show captures the essence of who Gene was and what he stood for,” Terri Upshaw said. “It brought me to tears. I’m so proud of what he stood for and was truly honored to be his wife and best friend.”
Upshaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. He played offensive guard for the Oakland Raiders for 15 years, becoming the only player in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl in three different decades. Upshaw played in six Pro Bowls and was ranked No. 62 on The Sporting News’ list of 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999.
In honor of Upshaw’s contributions to college and pro football, NCAA Division II established a lineman of the year award in Upshaw’s name in 2004. The award is annually presented during the weekend of the NCAA Division II Championship. After being an active member of the NFL Players Association bargaining committee as a player, Upshaw became executive director in 1983 and served in that role for 25 years until his death.
In addition to honoring Upshaw’s legacy through the fund, the family remains fervent about humanitarianism, providing quality medical treatment and care not only for patients but their families, as well as funding for sustainability, medical technology advancement, and medical research in critical areas such as traumatic brain injury.
For more information on the tournament, registration, sponsorship opportunities, and volunteer inquiries for 2018 go to http://www.gu63.org/. Sponsors receive playing spots in the tournament and the opportunity to meet and spend time with players from the Oakland Raiders Super Bowl winning teams of the 1970s and ‘80s, five-star lodging, VIP tickets to the private pairings party, gift bags, and recognition on all program materials and releases.