John Madden

John Madden gives advice to Cliff Branch on Hall of Fame quest

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AP

John Madden gives advice to Cliff Branch on Hall of Fame quest

Cliff Branch believes he should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though it’s up to the senior committee now. The Raiders agree, and have pushed hard to get their legendary receiver a gold jacket.

That body nominated Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile and Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jerry Kramer instead. Those guys most always get inducted.

Branch fell just short of a long-sought nomination, but wasn’t frustrated one bit. He received a ton of votes. Coming so close encouraged Branch, who was flattered by a lavish Raiders campaign  (#CliffToCanton) promoting him with stats and testimonials from contemporaries and others already in the Hall of Fame.

His case is strong, one you can read about here. In short, Branch was one of the best receivers of his era, with numbers better than other receivers with a fitted gold jacket.

“It’s going to happen,” Branch said on the Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was really close this year in the senior committee. When (former Raiders offensive lineman) Art Shell went in to represent me, it came down to (Brazile, Kramer) and myself. It was a three-way tie, but the committee chose those guys over me. I’m real close. I’m looking at 2019 like it could me my year.”

Branch remains confident, even after being overlooked so many times as a modern-era candidate. He’s holding strong based on advice John Madden, his first NFL head coach, gave him during the long wait.

“Coach Madden told me that it’s going to happen. He said to stay patient and stay alive,” said Branch, who, it should be noted, is in terrific health. “He said, ‘When it does come, and they call your name for the Hall of Fame, make sure you’re there to reap all the benefits.’ I told him, ‘I am not dying until I get in the Hall of Fame.’ Once I get the call, get that gold jacket and that ring, I could die the next day. But I’m going to stay alive for that deserving honor to come my way.”

Madden upset by Raiders decision to leave Oakland: 'That really bothers me'

Madden upset by Raiders decision to leave Oakland: 'That really bothers me'

John Madden was a head coach for just one team -- the Oakland Raiders. He was the best coach in franchise history, with a 103-32 record over 10 seasons leading the Silver and Black.

He’s a legend who brought glory to the East Bay, where he coached home games throughout his career. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was his battle ground, where he rarely lost in his head-coaching career.

Seeing the Raiders leave Oakland for good won’t be an easy thing. The Raiders will play one season at least, possibly two or three, in the old venue before heading to a new home in Las Vegas.

Madden sees it as the end of a great era and a strong bond between team and community.

“It really gets you because of the finality of it,” Madden said Wednesday night in an interview on SiriusXM NFL radio, with quotes from the station’s website. “When they moved before (to Los Angeles), that was after I got out and I was in broadcasting and I wasn’t that much of a part of it, but we had a stadium in Oakland that was relevant. And so, ‘Okay, Oakland may lose the Raiders, but we’ll get another team,’ because that was the way it was working back then.

“And with the stadium now, when they move out, that’s going to be torn down and it’s going to be a high-rise or some doggone thing and there’ll be no more Oakland Raiders, there’ll be no more history of the Oakland Raiders. That really bothers me.”

Despite signs pointing toward the Raiders gaining approval to relocate heading into the late March NFL owners meetings, Madden said he was surprised by the ease of approval.

“I didn’t think that that would happen and when they got a vote of 31-1, I was really shocked and I was surprised not only that it happened,” Madden said, “but how quickly that it happened.”

He also fears for teams visiting to play the Raiders, with the abundant nightlife scene that never truly sleeps.

“I would hate to be a coach to take a team in there,” Madden said. “I would hate to have my team be in Las Vegas on Saturday night before the game. And that’s any team. You say, ‘Well, you had a bunch of rowdies,’ but every team has a bottom 10. You can say, ‘Oh, we got a good group, it’s a great group, we’re together,’ and all this stuff. Say you have 55 guys. Forty-five of them can be perfect, but you’ve got that bottom 10. And you have to be as good as your last guy. If this thing goes through, I think there’s going to be a lot of problems like that.”