After a wait that felt much too long to so many, Raiders legend Cliff Branch was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday evening.
The late receiver was presented by his sister Elaine Anderson and close friend and Raiders Owner Mark Davis.
"Even to this day, I get tears in my eyes when I look at the picture of Cliff running into 'Cliff's Corner' with that ball held up above his head as he scored a touchdown. … Every team feared Cliff Branch and that speed that he had," Davis said.
A fourth-round selection in the 1972 NFL Draft, Branch spent all 14 seasons of his career as a Raider, totaling 8,685 receiving yards, 501 catches and 67 touchdowns in that span. He led the Raiders in receiving yards six times and in touchdown receptions five times. He remains third all-time in franchise history in career catches, touchdowns and receiving yards – behind Hall of Famers Tim Brown and Fred Biletnikoff.
The league quickly took notice of the deep-threat receiver as he earned was named to four Pro Bowls (1975-78) and earned All-Pro honors three times (1974-76).
Branch's true explosiveness flashed in the postseason, accumulating 1,289 playoff receiving yards – the most in the league at the time of his retirement and sixth-most today – with five playoff touchdowns, three of which he scored during Super Bowls XV and XVIII.
"Cliff seemingly always had a big play in every big game," recalled former teammate Matt Millen. "Whenever you needed it: Cliff Branch."
Most of all, Branch was known for his speed. Of his 72 career touchdowns, 32 were 30-plus yards, including his famous 99-yarder from Jim Plunkett in 1983.
Branch's induction comes 37 years after his last season in the Silver and Black, a belated but deserving honor for one of the best wide receivers to play the game.
Take a look at photos from The Canton Repository Grand Parade and Class of 2022 Enshrinement as Cliff Branch and Richard Seymour are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.