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: 2001
Position: Wide Receiver
Played for: Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Drafted: 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