Monday, September 1, 2008. (AP) -- NFL players will wear a uniform patch this season to honor NFL Players' Association leader Gene Upshaw, who died Aug. 20.
The league announced Monday that the patch will have the initials GU and the number 63, which he wore while playing for the Oakland Raiders.
Upshaw died of pancreatic cancer just three days after he was diagnosed.
The patch will be worn on the left chest of jerseys and is scheduled to make its debut Thursday, when the New York Giants and Washington Redskins open the season. Upshaw's wife, Terri, and his three sons will participate in the coin toss.
Upshaw made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 as the first player to play guard exclusively. He won two Super Bowls and made seven Pro Bowls in his 307-game NFL career.
He served 25 years as the executive director of the union from 1983 until his death.
The Raiders will also honor Upshaw in their opening game on Sept. 8 with a video tribute, and a replica of the uniform patch will be painted on the field in Oakland and at the Meadowlands.
"Gene was a truly unique, one-of-a-kind contributor to the NFL," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "No one in our game has ever combined Gene's level of achievement both as a Hall of Fame player and as an executive leader. No one did more for NFL players than Gene Upshaw. He deserves our everlasting respect and thanks."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press)