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27. Cliff Branch

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Cliff Branch
Wide Receivers have exploded in terms of yardage but the 70’s did not feature a lot of game breakers at that or any other position.  One of those exceptions was Cliff Branch who during the mid 70’s was one of the most explosive athletes on the field.

Cliff Branch was the deep threat for the Raiders when the Silver and Black were the most feared team in the league.  From 1974 to 1976, Branch would twice lead the league in receiving touchdowns and though the amount of catches he managed in that time frame seems average today, his average yards per catch holds up in any era.  Branch was also part of three Super Bowl Championship teams and caught a combined three touchdowns in the wins.

Branch’s style may have been a better fit in today’s current game, but had he had one or two more dominating years (and make no mistake, he was one of the elite receivers for a three year period) he would not be considered the fringe candidate he is as opposed to the Hall threat he should be.

The Bullet Points:

Country of Origin:
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Eligible Since:

Wide Receiver

Played for:
Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders


4th Round, 98th Overall in 1972

Major Accolades and Awards:
Pro Bowl Selections (4) (1974, 1975, 1976 & 1977)
First Team All Pro Selections (3) (1974, 1975 & 1976)
Most Receiving Yards (1) (1974)
Most Receiving Touchdowns (2) (1974 & 1976)
Most Receiving Yards/Game (2) (1974 & 1976)
Super Bowl Rings (3) (Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders Super Bowl XI, XV & XVIII)

Other Points of Note:
Top Ten Finishes: Receptions (2) (1974 & 1975)
Top Ten Finishes: Receiving Yards (4) (1974, 1975, 1976 & 1982)
Top Ten Finishes: Receiving Touchdowns (5) (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 & 1982)
Top Ten Finishes: Receiving Yards/Game (3) (1974, 1975 & 1976)
Top Ten Finishes: Touchdowns (2) (1974 & 1976)
Top Ten Finishes: Points Scored (1) (1974)

Notable All Time Rankings:
36. Receiving Touchdowns: 67
58. Receiving Yards: 8,685
92. Touchdowns: 67

Years Nominated for the Hall of Fame:
Semi Finalist: 2004 & 2010

Should Cliff Branch be in the Hall of Fame?

(You must be registered and logged in to vote!)
Definitely put him in! - 43.8%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 43.8%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 6.3%
No opinion. - 0%
No way! - 6.3%
Last modified on Sunday, 23 February 2014 21:40


+2 #1 jimmy26 -0001-11-29 19:00
Are you kidding me? Arguably the best deep threat in the history of football. He defined what the Raiders offensive scheme was all about. Get the ball vertical! 3 rings! 3 rings. Biletnikoff is in and only has one. Besides Otis Taylor the best wide receiver not to get in and wide receiver in the mnost underappreciate d position in the hall. And he wasn't even a prima donna. Think of this. Branch's career is parallel to Lynn Swann's in chronology. Now put his stats next to Swann's. dwarfs him but Swanny got in. super bowls? he has one more. stats. obviously not. because he was a bigger name that the media hyped more. If Branch would have been a little more self promoting (or a sideline announcer for 25 years) he would for sure be in. As a matter of fact put him up against 90 percent of the receivers already in and you will get the same results. Branch needs to be in.
+1 #2 sg15fan -0001-11-29 19:00
i agree branch needs to be in but comparing him to swann doesnt help that case. swann is probably the biggest joke in the hall. and best deep threat ever.....lance alworth
-7 #3 Robert 2012-07-14 10:56
To me Branch is only a borderline case for being in. Yes he was a great deep threat, but that doesn't get you in by itself. Branch didn't go over the middle, and he never had a game like Swann did in the Super Bowls. Pure numbers aren't the only thing that get a player into the Hall of Fame. Can you tell the history of the NFL without Cliff Branch? I think so. But you can't without Swann.
But the best deep threat ever was Bob Hayes. And he shouldn't be in the HOF either.
+2 #4 Yienwae 2013-03-19 16:06
Bob Hayes does deserve to be in the Hall of Fame for what he did in that era. Same goes for Swann (if only for what he did in the SB highlight reel) and for Branch. Growing up in the 70's, all NFL fans and players knew that the deep threat and the bomb from the Raiders was Cliff Branch. So if the argument comes up that if a person can tell the history of the NFL without Cliff Branch I will say this. If you don't include the Raiders, the answer is Yes. But if you are including the Raiders and the way they did things, Cliff Branch's name comes up in the same breath as any other top Raider of that era.
+2 #5 Gene 2014-07-28 22:40
Just look at the resume Branch has and it's clear, he is as good as any of the 1970s receivers. There is no way in h--- you can have Lynn Swann and John Stallworth in the HOF and not Cliff Branch.

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