Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mr. Goodell remembers Gene Upshaw

THN is proud to welcome Mr. Goodell for another guest post, this time in response to Gene Upshaw's tragic passing.

Between Bernie Mac and Gene Upshaw this must have been a very trying time for you peo … err … the world of sports and entertainment.

This is a time for honoring Gene Upshaw. I’m not a good writer and believe that tributes should be left to the professionals. His legacy should speak volumes for him. So I am going to step aside and give Gene his day. After a few words from me, of course.

I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on Gene Upshaw. I was just the humble son of a senator, Charles E. Goodell, the first time I saw the Raiders play the Chiefs. Now, as the son of a senator, we had the best television money could buy in those days. So you could get a real great view of the game. In fact, my dad invented the flat screen television.

My admiration for Gene carried all through his playing career, which much like mine, consisted of being the very best. I was a three sport star at Bronxville High School. I was the captain of the football, basketball and baseball team. I also was named the athlete of the year. This excellence in athletics allowed me to have a great relationship with Upshaw. When you are a great athlete like I am and Gene was, there is an unspoken bond between us.

Whenever I regaled Gene with stories of my athletic prowess you could see Gene’s eyes glaze over as he, no doubt, was probably trying to visualize my stunning red hair flowing underneath my leather helmet. Or maybe my blue steel gaze I often gave to the pitcher.

I was certainly something.

I remember one time, Gene was talking about how the Raiders became the first Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl. I told him a yarn about how I hit into a run-scoring 4-3 put out as Bronxville High’s baseball team avoid the cellar for the first time in my four years there.

We did have the love for sports. And when I look up at that photo here, my favorite one of us, I can’t help but recall all the good times I put Gene in his place when I suspended every player who ever crossed me. Those were good times.

I’m sure as Gene looks down on us right now, he really, really misses me.

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