August 04, 2019

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 8 comments

RIP Cliff Branch, frightening addition to an already powerful Oakland Raiders offense in the early 70's. Perhaps in death he will finally make the HOF, subject to the whim of the voters who, ironically, are appointed for life.

Daryle Lamonica throwing to Wells, Biletnikoff and Cannon was exciting to watch, but when Stabler and Branch arrived, they made the Oakland passing game deadly and clinical.

Branch retired from the NFL in the mid 80's but one day in the summer of 1988 I turned on the TV in a hotel room in Maryland after a long day of work and travel and promptly had my first encounter with the spectacle of arena football. And there, running routes on a short rug with tight sidelines, was the ageless Cliff Branch.

posted by beaverboard at 07:03 PM on August 04

Rest in Power

posted by NoMich at 09:51 PM on August 04

I never knowingly saw Branch play (and growing up as a Charger fan I probably wouldn't have appreciated it anyway), but I did know him from the historical teams on Madden. If you took the '76 Raiders team, you spent the whole game trying to find a way to get it to WR#21.

posted by LionIndex at 12:00 AM on August 05

Thanks for posting that clip NoMich. That was great. Hadn't ever seen that.

posted by beaverboard at 08:43 AM on August 05

that clip NoMich

Seconded. That move he puts on the Saints DB's early on in the clip was a complete ankle breaker.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:19 AM on August 05

In that video, they mention the 1974 playoff game between the Dolphins and the Raiders. That game has one of my first sports memories (I was 8 at the time). That game-winning miracle pass from Kenny Stabler to Clarence Davis had me shouting "NO WAY! STABLER'S KNEE WAS DOWN! HOW THE HELL DID THAT GUY CATCH THE BALL?!!" Incredible.

posted by NoMich at 02:49 PM on August 05

that clip NoMich

Branch is easily one of the best receiving tight ends to have played the game. Notice the nit pick. I wrote receiving because there was nothing on the video clip that showed him making the critical block that allowed a running back to make a big gain. When evaluating a tight end's game, blocking has to be considered. Come to think of it, I don't remember Oakland ever running the ball in those days. Yeah it's a nit pick. He belongs in the HOF for sure.

posted by Howard_T at 03:03 PM on August 05

Branch was the closest to Jerry Rice I've ever seen. There were plays when you knew the ball was going to him but no matter what defensive scheme you tried to use he was going to come up with the ball.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:31 AM on August 06

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