AFC North coaches, players react to passing of Upshaw

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

The passing of Hall of Famer and NFLPA head Gene Upshaw was on the minds of many in the AFC North Thursday.

Here are reactions from players and coaches within the division:

Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis through a team statement:

"In his position representing the players, I felt like Gene was always very frank and fair when he came in and visited the club. He wouldn't come here to visit without wanting to sit down and talk for 15 minutes to see how our players were doing and what else was going on. How were they doing? How was I doing? A time didn't go by when he didn't do that. And I appreciated that. It's a big loss for the NFL community."

Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel:

"Gene Upshaw passed away. I think Gene was a really good player, and I think Gene had the best interest of the NFL at heart, even though he worked and did a good job for the players. But he had the best interest in the NFL at heart."

Browns tight end and player rep Darnell Dinkins:

"Obviously Gene Upshaw was a great guy for us (players) in the NFL, and he led us. It's just unfortunate to see him pass away. I think that's the main thing that we need to focus on is just backing his family. It was so unexpected. Since Gene has been here, there was no union at first. He came in here and we went from having nothing to all of the things that we have now. With all the stuff that's going on, it's just unfortunate to see him pass. Gene Upshaw was a player first, and that was one of the best things about him was he was so diversified, being a Hall of Fame player to an excellent businessman."