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Cliff Branch, gridiron star with Super Bowl champion Raiders, dies at 71
By Associated Press
August 4, 2019 at 11:32 AM EDT
Cliff Branch, one of the Raiders’ career-leading wide receivers who won three Super Bowls in 14 seasons with the franchise, was found dead Aug. 3 in a hotel room in Bullhead City, Ariz. He was 71.
Bullhead City police announced the death and said an initial investigation revealed no foul play.
One of the game’s top deep threats from 1972 to 1985 with the Oakland (and later Los Angeles) Raiders, Mr. Branch was an all-pro three straight seasons (1974-1976) and made four Pro Bowl teams. He scored 67 touchdowns through the air, leading the National Football League in touchdown receptions in 1974 with 13 and in 1976 with 12. Mr. Branch also had a league-high 1,092 receiving yards in 1974.
He was a force in the postseason, with 1,289 receiving yards. The Raiders won Super Bowls after the 1976, 1980 and 1983 seasons — the last one after the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1982 after protracted court fights before returning to the Bay Area in 1995.
In 1983, Mr. Branch tied the NFL record for longest touchdown reception with a 99-yard catch in a regular-season game. He stands third among Raiders pass-catchers in yards receiving with 8,685, trailing Tim Brown and Fred Biletnikoff — both Hall of Famers.
Clifford Branch was born in Houston on Aug. 1, 1948, and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1972.
Mr. Branch was a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and 2010.
“All my peers that I played against and that are in the Hall of Fame, they tell me that I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame,” Mr. Branch told the Raiders’ website in a recent interview. “It’s the crowning glory, just like getting a Super Bowl ring.”