Cliff Branch believes he should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though it's up to the senior committee now. The Raiders agree, and have pushed hard to get their legendary receiver a gold jacket.
That body nominated Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile and Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jerry Kramer instead. Those guys most always get inducted.
Branch fell just short of a long-sought nomination, but wasn't frustrated one bit. He received a ton of votes. Coming so close encouraged Branch, who was flattered by a lavish Raiders campaign (#CliffToCanton) promoting him with stats and testimonials from contemporaries and others already in the Hall of Fame.
His case is strong, one you can read about here. In short, Branch was one of the best receivers of his era, with numbers better than other receivers with a fitted gold jacket.
"It's going to happen," Branch said on the Raiders Insider Podcast. "I was really close this year in the senior committee. When (former Raiders offensive lineman) Art Shell went in to represent me, it came down to (Brazile, Kramer) and myself. It was a three-way tie, but the committee chose those guys over me. I'm real close. I'm looking at 2019 like it could me my year."
Branch remains confident, even after being overlooked so many times as a modern-era candidate. He's holding strong based on advice John Madden, his first NFL head coach, gave him during the long wait.
"Coach Madden told me that it's going to happen. He said to stay patient and stay alive," said Branch, who, it should be noted, is in terrific health. "He said, ‘When it does come, and they call your name for the Hall of Fame, make sure you're there to reap all the benefits.' I told him, ‘I am not dying until I get in the Hall of Fame.' Once I get the call, get that gold jacket and that ring, I could die the next day. But I'm going to stay alive for that deserving honor to come my way."