Former Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch was recently named as a Senior Finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2022 class — one step closer to an overdue potential selection to Canton.
On Wednesday, Head Coach Jon Gruden and Derek Carr took time to remember the Raiders legend who embodied the motto, "Speed kills."
"I wish it was a little sooner — I think we all do — but definitely deserving," Carr said.
During 2019 Training Camp in Napa, California, the Raiders donned Branch's jersey in honor of the receiver after he had just passed away. Carr reminisced on the moment he exchanged his No. 4 for No. 21.
"I rocked that 21 that one day in Napa out of respect. Coach Gruden's had us do that a few times out at practice where we all wear [Ken] Stabler's jersey, Cliff Branch's jersey, all that kind of stuff. That's what this place is, family. As much as we talk about it, it is what it is. Once a Raider, always a Raider. That's how they treat you here."
Branch was one of six players who were on all three Raiders' Super Bowl-winning teams. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection who recorded 8,686 receiving yards and 67 touchdowns over his 14-year career.
The wide receiver still holds the Raiders' record for longest pass play, when he caught a 99-yard touchdown in 1983 from Jim Plunkett. Branch is also the Silver and Black's third leading receiver behind Tim Brown and Fred Biletnikoff.
"I can't speak for John Madden or [Tom] Flores, or any of the guys who coached him, but I don't think you can measure his impact in catches in Pro Football Focus statistics," Gruden said. "He was a threat to go all the way, all the time, and if you didn't account for him, they were going to put a bomb on you. They were going to throw it.
"And if you did account for him, it was better for [Dave] Casper, it was better for Mervyn [Fernandez], it was better for everybody else, Fred [Biletnikoff] will tell you that. So, I think the fact that he was a great guy, a world champion and a difference maker as a down the field receiver, it would be great to see him get in the Hall of Fame."