Art Powell, an AFL standout wide receiver for the New York Titans and Oakland Raiders, passed away Monday at age 78, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Powell hauled in 479 passes for 8,046 yards and 81 touchdowns in a 10-season AFL/NFL career with the Eagles (1959), Titans (1960-1962), Raiders (1963-1966), Bills (1967) and Vikings (1968).
After exceeding 1,000 yards receiving in 2-of-3 seasons with the Titans (now Jets), Powell signed on with the Raiders, with whom he had four productive campaigns, catching 254 passes for 4,491 yards and 50 touchdowns.
Powell is also known for his willingness to fight racial discrimination. In 1963, Powell and three Raiders teammates helped force an exhibition game to be moved from Mobile, Alabama, because of the players’ objections against segregated seating at Ladd Stadium, according to a United Press International news account.
The Raiders’ owner, the late Al Davis, supported the objecting players, a group that also included Fred Williamson.
“I’m speaking as man rather than their coach when I say I don’t blame them for what they believe,” Davis said, according to UPI.
Davis added: “These are our players and our friends and we are sticking by them.”
On Wednesday, the Raiders paid tribute to Powell.
“His strong convictions and athletic prowess helped shape the pro football landscape of the 1960s,” the club said in a prepared statement. “Our hearts and prayers and most sincere condolences are with his family at this time.”