Fittingly, Cliff Branch will make history on Sunday.
After a painfully long wait for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the late Raiders’ receiving legend will be the first deceased player to receive a Hall of Fame ring and have a ceremony in his honor. The family of Branch will receive his Hall of Fame ring during halftime of the Las Vegas Raiders’ game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.
Branch was inducted into the Canton, Ohio museum in August. He died in August, 2019 at the age of 71. It was a source of frustration for the organization and the Raider Nation that it took Branch so long to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
He is credited for changing the way the game was played because of his blazing speed. He helped pioneer the deep-passing game that is a huge part of today’s NFL. Branch was part of all three of the Raiders’ Super Bowl winning teams. He had 67 touchdowns and averaged 17.3 yards per catch.
The Hall of Fame announced Wednesday morning that it is changing its policy regarding giving deceased players their rings. The Hall of Fame indicated that Raiders’ owner Mark Davis and Virginia Madden, the widow of Raiders’ Hall of Fame coach John Madden, helped push for the policy change.
Branch’s sister, Elaine Anderson, will accept the ring in the ceremony. Anderson and Davis presented Branch into the Hall of Fame. Davis and Branch were close friends for years.
Kendra Stabler-Moyes, the oldest daughter of Raiders’ Hall of Fame quarterback Ken ‘Snake’ Stabler has long been an advocate of deceased players getting their due Hall of Fame awards. Her father was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016, more than a year after he died at the age of 69.
Stabler-Moyes is hopeful a ring in her father’s memory will be made.
“That’s amazing,” Stabler-Moyes wrote in a text to Silver and Black Pride regarding the policy change “and about time.”