It’s Super Bowl week, but the highlight of the week for this community may come on Thursday night.
The Raiders may add another legend to the Pro Football Hall of Fame — the late Cliff Branch is the senior committee’s nominee and has a strong chance of gaining induction into the Canton, Ohio museum. The final vote took place last month and is set to be announced on Thursday night. Last August, the speedy Raiders’ legendary wide receiver was named the special nominee. It is rare that that candidate doesn’t gain election. Branch needs 80 percent of the vote and is not in the modern player’s vote, so his candidacy stands alone. Raiders’ quarterback Ken Stabler was voted into the hall of fame as a senior nominee six years ago.
It has long been considered an omission in league circles that Branch, who died in August 2019 at the age of 71, isn’t a member of the Hall of Fame.
Branch was one of the NFL’s first real speed star receivers. His stats stack up well against several receivers in the Hall of Fame, including Lynn Swann and Drew Pearson. He had 501 catches for 8,685 yards (17.3 yards per catch) and 67 touchdowns in his career that spanned from 1972-1985. Branch was also on all three of the Raiders’ Super Bowl-winning teams.
Raiders’ owner Mark Davis (who was longtime close friends with Branch) made this statement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he was announced as a senior committee nominee: “Cliff Branch changed the game,” Davis said. “Safeties had to be aware of him.”
This week, Branch’s NFL legacy may finally be cemented.