The Las Vegas Raiders are one of the most iconic franchises in sports and have had their fair share of all-timers come through and don the Silver and Black.
Former head coach Tom Flores and defensive back Charles Woodson were finally enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and former standout wide receiver Cliff Branch has a chance to be the next Raider to join them after being named a finalist. Branch was a key member of three Raiders Super Bowl victories and is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Derek Carr took a moment to talk about Branch and what it would have been like to throw him the football. “Oh my goodness, yeah. We used to talk about that,” Carr said.” It would’ve been fun. I rocked the 21 [jersey] that one day in Napa out of respect. Coach Gruden’s had us do that a few times at practice where I’ll wear [Ken] Stabler’s jersey, someone will wear Cliff Branch’s jersey, all that kind of stuff.
“That’s what this place is, it’s family. As much as we talk about it, it is what it is. Once a Raider, always a Raider. That’s how they treat you here. I’m happy, but at the same time I’m like, ‘Dang, could it have been sooner?’ One of those kinds of things, but definitely happy for his friends and his family.”
Head coach Jon Gruden also reflected on the Raiders legend, discussing his impact on the field.
“I’m glad you bring his name up. We sure miss him,” Gruden said. “God bless his family because he was one of the brightest personalities I’ve ever met.
“But he was a threat; I don’t think Al Davis, I can’t speak for John Madden or [Tom] Flores, or any of the guys who coached him, but I don’t think you can measure his impact in catches in Pro Football Focus statistics. He was a threat to go all the way, all the time, and if you didn’t account for him, they were going to put a bomb on you. They were going to throw it. So, I think the fact that he was a great guy, a world champion, and a difference maker as a down the field receiver, it would be great to see him get in the Hall of Fame.”
Branch should be voted into the Hall, and the moment it happens, it will be an overdue but joyous occasion for the Silver and Black family.