49ers: Upshaw 'epitome' of NFL ideals

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers released a statement today on the passing of Raiders great and NFLPA union chief Gene Upshaw (the statement includes a quote from 49ers owner John York):

The San Francisco 49ers are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Gene Upshaw.

Today, the 49ers stand side-by-side with our cross-Bay rival team, the Raiders, in mourning the passing of a great player on the field and a great leader off the field. For 14 years, Upshaw set the standard on one of the best offensive lines in the game. And after he retired, he devoted 25 years to being an outstanding advocate for his fellow players as executive director of the NFLPA.

"This is a loss for the entire NFL. Gene was the epitome of what the NFL stands for," said team owner John York. "He was not only a man who gave his very best on the field every game during his great career, but he was a man of integrity and service off the field. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the San Francisco 49ers organization are with his family today. Gene passed away far too young, and he will be greatly missed."

Upshaw's sudden passing from pancreatic cancer has rocked those who knew and respected him, including on-field opponents such as the 49ers.