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Raiders countdown to kickoff: 63 was legendary Gene Upshaw

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For the first time this offseason we reach a day in our countdown which has no Raiders player wearing that number. No matter. It gives us that much more reason to focus on one of the greatest Raiders of all time.

Who wore it best: OG Gene Upshaw (1967-81)

Nicknamed "Highway 63″ for the wide lanes he paved from the left guard spot. He was the key component in guys like Marv Hubbard and Mark Van Eeghen surpassing 1000-yard seasons..

Upshaw was a seven time Pro Bowler, five time All Pro, two time Super Bowl champion, and first ballot Hall of Famer. He was a member of the ‘70s All decade team, member of the 75th anniversary All Time team, and named one of The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Football Players. They don't get much more legendary than that.

In his 15-year career — all in Silver & Black — he blocked for all three of the Raiders’ greatest passers. His first year with the Raiders was the first year of ‘The Mad Bomber' Daryle Lamonica's Raiders career. That year the Raiders made it to Super Bowl II. Upshaw blocked for Ken Stabler's entire career in Oakland and the dominant guard was still there when Jim Plunkett came along and took the team to their third Super Bowl and second Super Bowl win.

As a player, Upshaw was an active member of the NFL Players Association. He later became President of the NFLPA for many years until he passed away in 2009 of pancreatic cancer; as it happens, just five days after his 63rd birthday.