In 1972, Cliff Branch became an Oakland Raider by virtue of being the 98th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Branch spent the entirety of his 14-year football career with Al Davis and the Raiders. Branch’s legacy is immortal as he is regarded as being one of the biggest reasons that modern-day teams deem it a necessity to have a deep threat wide receiver.
Branch’s career was one of the best in history for a WR. He ended his career with 501 receptions, 8,685 yards, and 67 touchdowns. During his 14 years, he also racked up 1,289 receiving yards in the playoffs. His impressive stat line earned him four Pro Bowl nods and three first-team All-Pro selections.
Branch’s speed and greatness were undeniable. Branch sealed the ultimate deep threat legacy when he caught the longest pass ever thrown by a Raider: 99 yards from Jim Plunkett.
The legendary wide receiver was a member of all the Raiders’ Super Bowl-winning teams.
Owner Mark Davis had much to say about Branch’s HOF nod.
“You watch videos and it’s mind-boggling how great of a player he was. What a game-changer he was. How he changed 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,” Davis told ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.
“He was my best friend. What a great journey we had together”.
Branch passed away in 2019 at the age of 71. His HOF nod comes much too late, but the impact he left on the game of football is now enshrined forever.
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