When I was growing up in Oakland in the 1990s Gene Upshaw’s heyday had long since passed, but he was still beloved by Raider Nation and seemingly everybody involved in football. Ten, fifteen, twenty years after his Hall of Fame career he was still feted by Al Davis and the entire Raiders organization, and I doubt he was allowed to pay for his own meal anywhere in the Bay Area.
All of this is to provide the context for how surprising it was to read in the Washington Post about the relationship between the late Upshaw (he died of cancer in 2008) and his wife of 22 years, Terri. If there had been even a hint of this sordid tale involving two prominent Bay Area institutions, it would’ve been a big fucking deal. Instead we’re just learning about it now.
Terri Upshaw, formerly Terri Buich, is a member of the family that owns famed San Francisco restaurant Tadich Grill. Tadich Grill has been around since the gold rush days, and owned by the Buich family for the past 86 years. It’s the type of cigar, steak, and seafood place to land on a list titled, “10 of the World’s Greatest Old Dining Institutions.”
As a young woman in the early 1980s, Terri told the Post, she met and fell in love with Upshaw. They dated in secret for eight months before Upshaw became the executive director of the NFLPA, and asked Terri to move to Washington, D.C. with him. This necessitated telling her family about the relationship, but there was one major problem: she is white, and Upshaw was black.
Word got back to her father. She remembers how much she sobbed in that final family meeting with her parents and siblings. She was 23 and pleading for love — both theirs and her own. She thinks her mother and siblings were crying, but it has been so long. Only the final message was clear.
When she told her father that she had decided to follow the black man she loved to Washington, she says, “he told me that’s it — you’re out of the family. Change your last name, and don’t ever call us again.”
Terri Upshaw’s parents have never met her sons—their grandchildren—and she says her entire family ignored her at her grandmother’s funeral. So why is she telling her story now? Because the Tadich Grill opened a new location in Washington D.C., right in the backyard of where she has lived for over 30 years, and she seems tired of covering for her family’s racism by staying silent.
Unsurprisingly, the Buich family and the Tadich Grill ignored the Post’s attempts at getting their comment on the story. But as stories in 2015 involving badly behaving businesses dictate, readers are making their own voices heard by leaving terrible reviews for both location of the Tadich Grill on Yelp: