Category: Packer Reports

Gene Upshaw Dead, 63

Rather shocking news this morning in NFL circles that Gene Upshaw, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, has died at the age of 63, apparently from an undisclosed case of pancreatic cancer.


Upshaw had lost weight in recent years, but it was not known publicly that he was battling cancer. Yesterday USA Today had been unable to reach him regarding a story about the NFL's desire to place a salary cap on top rookie draft picks.


Upshaw had a commanding presence in a room. I have seen him at various NFL events and meetings, the last time during his annual press conference at the Super Bowl in Phoenix last February.


Upshaw warned that if the owners didn't renew the current collective bargaining agreement, he doubted there would ever be another salary cap in the NFL (which has been crucial to the success of small market Green Bay.) “We’ll never have another one again,” said Upshaw. “I know I’m not going to be the one pushing for another one.” In March, the owners voted 32-0 to drop the CBA.


Who will replace Upshaw? Former Badger defensive back Troy Vincent had been rumored to be an heir apparent, serving as the NFLPA's President, and was given some mic time at the same Super Bowl press conference. 


Vincent also made some headlines at a press conference I covered at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, in which he downplayed reports of football players use of human growth hormones. Those comments came despite the Patriots Rodney Harrison being suspended four games for testing positive for HGH.


Vincent exited the NFLPA rather abruptly a month later, on March 18th. The players union would later say it was because his term as president was up. 


He was replaced the next day by Kevin Mawae, the veteran NFL center now with the Titans. Mawae contends he was released by the Jets after last season for being "outspoken", something he says head coach Eric Mangini didn't like.


– Mike Clemens 

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Mike Clemens