NFL Notebook

Upshaw to Be Honored With Patch, Pregame Tributes

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NFL players will wear patches on their jerseys this season honoring Gene Upshaw, the late executive director of the players' union.

The league announced yesterday the patch will include Upshaw's initials and the number 63, his jersey number during his Hall of Fame playing days with Oakland.

"Gene was a truly unique, one-of-a-kind contributor to the NFL," Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement issued by the league. "No one in our game has ever combined Gene's level of achievement both as a Hall of Fame player and as an executive leader. No one did more for NFL players than Gene Upshaw. He deserves our everlasting respect and thanks."

Upshaw's wife, Terri, and sons Eugene Jr., Daniel and Justin will participate in the pregame coin toss at the NFL's season-opening game on Thursday night between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants at Giants Stadium, and the Raiders will honor him with a video tribute before their game Monday night against Denver.

Upshaw also will be featured on the cover of the Raiders' game program, and a replica of the uniform patch will be painted on the field at Giants Stadium for Thursday night's game and at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland for Monday night's game, the league announced.

Upshaw died Aug. 20 at a home he owned in California, three days after going to a nearby hospital for tests that led to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

A memorial service is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. today in Washington at the Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center. The service was scheduled for a Tuesday because that's the usual day off for players during the NFL work week.

The union probably will make an official announcement this week about its search for a successor. Richard Berthelsen, the union's general counsel, was named interim executive director.

Flacco Named Starter

Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco will start in the season opener on Sunday against Cincinnati. The Ravens awarded the job to their top draft pick because he's the healthiest player at the position. . . .

Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson, sidelined since Aug. 18 with a concussion, was back at practice and is expected to start against Dallas. . . .

The New England Patriots signed two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Deltha O'Neal. . . .

The Oakland Raiders agreed to terms on a one-year contract with wide receiver Ashley Lelie.

-- From News Services

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