Cliff Branch’s speed led to Hall of Fame after long wait

by | Aug 4, 2022 | Sports

Cliff Branch was the epitome of what Al Davis coveted in a receiver during his decades running the Raiders.Branch arrived in Oakland with the game-breaking speed needed to fuel the Raiders’ vertical offense and as soon as he learned to harness that speed and develop reliable hands, there was no stopping Branch.Branch became one of the best deep threats of his era with some of his biggest performances coming on the game’s biggest stages to earn a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.“He was a game-changer,” said Hall of Fame coach Tom Flores, who was a receivers coach for the Raiders when Branch arrived and was his head coach for seven seasons. “He had one-of-a-kind speed and several gears with his speed. I had to coach him on how to slow down. That sounds ridiculous, but he was trying to run the routes I was teaching in mock speed and couldn’t do it. He was tripping and clumsy, so I taught him to glide. He could glide faster than most people could run. Then when you have the need, turn it on.”Branch arrived in Oakland as a four …

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