Despite being one of the greatest wide receivers of his era, the Hall of Famer has eluded Cliff Branch for decades. The Raiders legend was one of the few players who were on all three of their Super Bowl-winning teams and he was made iconic due to his ability as a deep threat. There are few wide receivers in history who could stretch the field like Branch.
He’s long been considered one of the most egregious Hall of Fame snubs but that’s finally changing. The four-time Pro Bowler and NFL record holder for longest touchdown reception (99 yards) has finally been elected to the Hall of Fame as a member of the 2022 class. Unfortunately, Branch isn’t alive to receive this honor as he passed away in 2019 at the age of 71.
Raiders owner Mark Davis had maintained a very close relationship with the wide receiver for a long time. He was elated to see his late friend finally get the recognition he deserves.
“He was my best friend,” Davis told ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “What a great journey we had together. We’ve been through everything together. I’m just so disappointed that his life was cut short. I love him with all my heart. I’m very happy for his family to get the recognition he deserves. Two days after he lost his home [in the Santa Rosa, California] fires, he was here in Las Vegas, helping the victims and families of the Oct. 1 shooting. That’s the kind of guy he was.
“There’s nobody more deserving. You watch videos and it’s mind-boggling how great of a player he was. What a game changer he was. How he changed how defenses had to cover people and how people had to look for a receiver. Every team now needs at least one speed receiver. This guy put fear in their heart.”
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Marcus Allen Believes Branch Would Dominate Any Era
When Branch played, he had transcendent speed but was also an excellent route runner. He also played his best football when the games counted most. His 73 catches for 1,289 yards in the playoffs were an NFL record when he retired. He still ranks fifth in yards all these years later.
Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen only spent a small portion of his career playing with Branch but he knows just how great the wide receiver’s skill level was.
“A lot of guys in the Hall of Fame couldn’t play today’s game,” Allen said, via Gutierrez. “Cliff is one of those guys who could play yesterday and today. If he played today, he would destroy the league.”
Getting elected to the Hall of Famer was long overdue for Branch but his family can take solace knowing that he is immortalized in football history.
Richard Seymour Also Gets In
It’s a great year for Raiders alumni as Branch wasn’t the only former member of the team to get elected to the Hall of Fame. Former defensive lineman Richard Seymour also received the honor. He’ll always be remembered for his time as a New England Patriot but he had some dominant years with the Raiders. He spent four seasons with the team and was a force. He made the Pro Bowl twice as a Raider.