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Countdown to kickoff: 73 is Maurice Hurst and a one-time NFL record held by Raiders most egregious Hall of Fame snub

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Los Angeles Raiders Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Happy Friday everyone. In 73 days, it will be a happy Monday as they Raiders will be opening the 2018 season at home against the Rams. The Raiders are hoping their new number 73 will have torn up training camp and preseason to earn the starting defensive tackle job.

Maurice Hurst was the teams fifth round pick with the talent of a top five overall pick. A perceived heart condition had him fall in the draft and come the 5th round, the Raiders made their move to see to it they took the risk on this potentially high reward talent.

So far, Hurst has been as advertised. He’s physically gifted as well as highly intelligent and of high character. Should the heart situation never materialize, the Raiders have the complete package.

Back in 1973 another complete package at his position had his first playoff completion. By the time Cliff Branch earned his third Super Bowl ring with the Raiders in 1983, he was the NFL’s all time leader with 73 playoff receptions, surpassing teammate Fred Biletnikoff (70).

That playoff record was still intact when Cliff Branch was initially eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. But he was denied. And again the following year. And the year after that (more on that later).

It wasn’t until 1992 that Jerry Rice broke Branch’s record. To this day Branch is 8th all time among receivers. The first three receivers to surpass Branch’s mark were Rice, Michael Irvin, Andre Reed — all of whom have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And of course Biletnikoff is also in the Hall of Fame.

And yet Cliff Branch can’t get a sniff of those hallowed halls. It’s easily one of the more glaring and egregious snubs in history of the sport.