Cliff Branch, Raiders legend and former All-Pro receiver, dead at 71

Cliff Branch, Raiders legend and former All-Pro receiver, dead at 71

Legendary former Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch died Saturday.

He was 71.

His cause of death was not immediately known, and the Raiders confirmed his passing in a tweet from owner Mark Davis.

“Cliff Branch touched the lives of generations of Raiders fans," the team said in a statement. "His loss leaves an eternal void for the Raiders Family, but his kindness and loving nature will be fondly remembered forever. Cliff’s on-field accomplishments are well documented and undeniably Hall of Fame worthy, but his friendship and smile are what the Raider Nation will always cherish.”

Branch was one of the NFL’s most dynamic receiving threats, and he spent his entire career with the Silver and Black. He was a three-time Super Bowl champion and a three-time All-Pro, and Branch also played in four Pro Bowls.

He finished an illustrious career with 501 receptions for 8,655 yards and 67 touchdowns, averaging an astonishing 17.3 yards per catch. Many consider his career worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

[RELATED: Branch on Hall of Fame bid, Raiders' golden age]

Branch was an energetic fun-loving personality who always was a fan favorite. He remained active with the Raiders after retiring in 1985, and developed an extremely close bond with Davis.

He was beloved among Raiders alumni, frequently at evens bridging former Raiders from different generations. 

The Raiders planned to use him prominently in their transition to Las Vegas relocation in 2020, as an ambassador of the team's brand. 

That was fitting, considering he was a constant during a Raiders golen era. He was vital to all three Super Bowl championships, quickly becoming a dominant vertical threat after then owner Al Davis drafted him in the fourth round of the 1972 NFL draft. The University of Colorado was a top track athlete in the 100 and 200 meters. He chose football instead, and used his signature speed to become a dominant deep threat cornerbacks couldn't cover down the field. He led the NFL with 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns in 1974, the first of three straight All-Pro seasons. 

He remained a Raider his entire career, once averaging 24.2 yards per reception. He was always awesome in the playoffs, and remained a productive player at all times into his late 30s.  

Second Raiders stadium site worker tests positive for coronavirus


Second Raiders stadium site worker tests positive for coronavirus

A second person working at the Allegiant Stadium construction site tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), according to stadium officials commissioned to build the Raiders a new venue just off the Las Vegas Strip.

Mortensen-McCarthy, a joint venture leading the stadium construction effort, issued a statement Wednesday announcing the finding.

The statement, sent to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and other local media, said the company was notified Tuesday of the positive test. The worker, according to Mortensen-McCarthy, was on site for one week before leaving on April 2, prior to experiencing symptoms.

The company said the infected worker wasn’t close to others due to social-distancing measures implemented on the construction site. The worker is self-isolating and won’t return to work until medically cleared to do so. The company said the area where the worker was assigned was shut down and thoroughly sanitized.

The stadium site has strict guidelines for workers on site and sanitizing protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus for workers.

The first COVID-19 case from a stadium site worker was announced on March 25.

While Nevada has issued a stay-at-home directive, construction is considered an essential business and has continued despite the coronavirus pandemic.

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Allegiant Stadium is still expected to be ready for the 2020 Raiders season should it start on time. The coronavirus pandemic has put sports on hold, with no timeline for return. The NFL, however, currently is planning to start the season as scheduled.

The Raiders are set to play their first season in Las Vegas after spending previous seasons in Oakland and Los Angeles.

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NFL rumors: Ex-Raider DeAndre Washington, Chiefs agree to contract terms

NFL rumors: Ex-Raider DeAndre Washington, Chiefs agree to contract terms

DeAndre Washington reportedly is no longer a Raiders running back, but his old team will see him often in the 2020 NFL season. He agreed to a contract with the rival Kansas City Chiefs, Yahoo! Sports' Terez Paylor reported Tuesday citing a source, keeping the tough runner in the AFC West.

It also reunites Washington with great friend and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whom he played with at Texas Tech.

Washington served the Raiders well over the course of his rookie contract. The 2015 fifth-round draft pick was a steady reserve capable of shouldering a larger load if asked, a point he proved after Josh Jacobs was shut down late last season with a shoulder injury.

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He had 40 carries for 162 rushing yards and a touchdown in two straight games as a starter. Washington wasn’t expected back in 2020, with the Raiders looking for a different rushing style in reserve.

Washington and Jalen Richard are of similar stature and while they aren’t identical players, a greater contrast obviously is of benefit.

Washington enters a solid situation with the defending Super Bowl champs. Damien Williams is returning but LeSean McCoy is not, meaning there should be carries to earn with the Chiefs, even if he remains a secondary option.

All told, Washington had 282 carries for 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns in his Raiders career.

[RELATED: Why Raiders should be wary of drafting first-round receivers]

The Raiders carry on with Jacobs, Richard and Rod Smith as the primary options at running back. Another runner could be added in the NFL draft.