Remembering a leader...

Mike Petraglia
August 21, 2008 - 8:02 am

Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued a statement on Tuesday on the passing of NFL Players Union Chief Executive Gene Upshaw, who died Wednesday night from pancreatic cancer at his home in Lake Tahoe, Calif. He was 63.

"I am deeply saddened today to learn of Gene Upshaw'€™s passing,'€ Kraft said. '€œHe is a man I have always admired and respected. Through hard work and perseverance, Gene accomplished so much in his life. He was passionate about the game of football and dedicated much of his adult life to improving the game, not just for the benefit of the players, but for the benefit of all our fans, too. His many on-field accomplishments earned him a place among the all-time greats in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But his contributions to the game go way beyond the playing field. His union leadership has been one of the key factors to the exponential growth that the league and all of its players have enjoyed over the past two decades.

Upshaw was just diagnosed with cancer on Sunday.

'€œGene represented the players the way I would want to be represented: with understanding, integrity and a steadfast commitment to doing what was right for them and what was best for the game,'€ Kraft continued. '€œOn behalf of my family and the entire New England Patriots organization, I extend our sincerest sympathies to his wife, Terri, and the entire Upshaw family. Gene'€™s legacy on the game will be lasting and his presence will be missed.'€