VIDEO: Tim Brown, Marcus Allen, others golf in Gene Upshaw’s memory
Gene 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 first 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.
Upshaw died of pancreatic cancer in 2008 at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee. Upshaw’s widow, Terri Upshaw (who owns a second home in Truckee), and sons Justin and Daniel established the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund in 2009 because of the exceptional care he received at the hospital.
In addition to hosting the celebrity golf tournament in an effort to honor 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, sustainability, medical technology advancement as well as funding for medical research in critical areas such as traumatic brain injury.
Since 2009, and prior to this week’s tournament, the fund had raised more than $1 million. Nearly half, $463,544, has been directed specifically for traumatic brain injury research with the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research.
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Under blue cloudless skies, roughly 30 retired pro sports celebrities took to the links Monday at Schaffer’s Mill Golf & Lake Club for the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic.
The eighth annual tournament not only honors the late Hall of Fame lineman — who was a close friend to many of the participants — but also raises money for cancer research, patient care and traumatic brain injury research and innovation throughout the Truckee region.
“When we started this eight years ago, we weren’t sure how well it was going to go and how far it would grow,” Terri Upshaw, Gene Upshaw’s widow and Honorary Chair of the event, said from the course Monday. “Every year it seems to get bigger and better. Everybody who’s part of this whole event has made it that much better. It’s touching; it’s very humbling.”
On the course, amid 70-degree temperatures and a fresh mountain breeze, a field of more than two dozen former pro athletes and coaches took their best swings over 18 holes.
The collection of celebrity athletes was headlined by a handful of ex-Raider legends, including Tom Flores and Hall of Famers Marcus Allen and Tim Brown.
Fred Biletnikoff, a Hall of Fame wide receiver who was Gene Upshaw’s teammate for 12 years in the ‘60s and ‘70s, was also in attendance to pay tribute to his dear friend.
“When guys come up and play in the tournament, it’s because of Gene,” Biletnikoff, who’s played in the event in previous years, said during a break in the action. “And the bonus is the foundation and what they’re doing to raise money, which is a great cause.”
Others highlighting this year’s tournament included retired Major League Baseball players Vida Blue, J.T. Snow and Scott Erickson, as well as ESPN analyst and former NFL player and coach Herm Edwards.
At day’s end, Edwards and his group of four participating sponsors claimed first place with a low score of 100. Blue’s team finished second with a 105. Former NFL kick returner Brian Mitchell’s team took third with a 106.