Class of 2022: Cliff Branch ‘loved everything about football’, gave back to community

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By Daniel May
Professional Football Hall of Fame

Recognized as a tri-sport athlete with exceptional talent in football, baseball and track and field, CLIFF BRANCH will be enshrined August 6 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2022.


Branch had a successful 14-year career as a wide receiver with the Raiders, finishing with 501 receptions, 8,685 receiving yards and 76 touchdowns.


The late Branch, who is survived by his sister Elaine Anderson, was elected to the Hall of Fame this year as a senior finalist.


“He knew he was getting in (the Pro Football Hall of Fame),” Anderson shared in an interview with Hall of Fame staff. “He just didn’t know when.”


Branch’s love for the game started when he was just a boy. Anderson mentioned that Branch’s perfect Christmas was full of football-focused gifts.


“Cliff loved everything about football. Every year for Christmas he would ask for a different piece of a football uniform. Eventually he got the whole uniform,” Anderson said. “The other kids he played with were so impressed.”


This love has only increased over time. When the Raiders traveled to Super Bowl XI, Branch offered to buy tickets for his entire family so they could come support him in his first Super Bowl appearance.


“His proudest moment was watching his family watch him win Super Bowl XI,” Anderson said.


At the Raiders’ community-wide Super Bowl party, his sister shared that Branch would let fans try on his coveted ring. She shared that Branch is all about sharing his love for the game with the people who support him the most.


After his playing career, Branch was proud to give back to the Raiders community. He has often lent a hand in charitable events and volunteer endeavours.


“After football, he put himself in the service of others. He often helped a charity children’s hospital,” Anderson said.


When his family received the phone call from Hall of Fame President Jim Porter that Branch was a member of the Class of 2022, a weight was lifted.


“Delayed, but not denied. We are finally at peace,” Anderson said.

Daniel May is a student at Buffalo State University and is an intern this summer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

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