WASHINGTON, D.C. -- His big, booming voice was a familiar presence in the long halls of the NFL Players Association offices. Even when you couldn't see him, you could hear him coming. Perhaps intimidating if judged solely by his 6-foot-5 frame, for those who knew him, he was far from that.
When he approached your office or cubicle, en route to getting his morning cup of coffee, he was just as likely to discuss life's trivial matters as he was to discuss official work business. Despite his large stature in the world of sports, the man was as personable and approachable as they come.
Gene Upshaw, one of the most influential men in the history of the NFL, a visionary leader and the longtime Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, passed away Wednesday night. He was 63.
A powerful figure in American professional sports and an extremely successful head of the players union, Upshaw passed away at his home in Lake Tahoe, Calif. with his wife, Terri, and three sons—Eugene Jr., Justin and Daniel—by his side. He learned he had pancreatic cancer Aug. 17.
"Whenever a person loses their life, it is definitely a sad situation, especially a guy like Gene who has been a tremendous asset not only to the NFL but to the players," said Robert Royal, tight end for the Buffalo Bills and their player representative. "We lose a lot of knowledge, a great person, a great human being and someone who was leading in the right direction."
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