One of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, Raiders legend Cliff Branch was once again snubbed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
On Wednesday January 15th, 2020 on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class was announced, and many felt Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch would finally get in. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue and NFL Films legend Steve Sabol were inducted, and while Cliff Harris and Mac Speedie were inducted, there was a glaring name missing from the marquee, three-time Super Bowl Champion Cliff Branch.
In Branch’s 14-year NFL career with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, he recorded 501 receptions for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns, and he was even better when it mattered. In the postseason, Branch hauled in 73 receptions for 1,289 yards, an average of 17.7 yards per catch, and five touchdowns including three touchdowns in his three Super Bowl wins.
That was a record until broken by Hall of Fame wide receiver and former San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders Jerry Rice in 1993. Branch was a player that revolutionized the wide receiver position, his speed and route running was unparalleled.
Cliff was the epitome of a Raider, he was everything that Al Davis wanted, and respected in a player. As Cliff made one of his many trips to the end zone he was greeted by a bright yellow sign that read “Speed Kills”. Branch, a speedy receiver with the ability to catch everything that was thrown to him, was a true threat on the field and quickly became the favorite target of Ken Stabler and Jim Plunkett.
Branch played wide receiver during a time in the league when the running back was the focus of an offense and yet he was always one of the most polarizing players on and off the field. A player who loved what he did, the team he played for and the fans who supported him, Branch was the definition of a Raider.
Every year as the pro Football Hall of Fame announces their annual inductees, Raider Nation waits patiently for the powers that be to make an educated and correct decision, to present the most deserving Raiders with the most prestigious of honors. However, year after year we watch our legends get passed up for less deserving players as the Hall waits to enshrine Raiders posthumously.
While Branch should have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame decades ago, it would have been fitting for his enshrinement to have happened during the centennial season. It looks as if Raider nation and the Branch family will have to wait yet another year for his deserving home in Canton.