By Dr. Ken


To Oakland Raiders fans, Marv Hubbard’s name brings back fond and immediate memories. In the bigger picture of the AFL and NFL however, Hubbard played during seasons that saw many bigger names and those with gaudier statistics. I believe he was truly underrated and that was the primary topic of conversation today when my friend Phil and I met for our daily “debriefing” at the Rockville Centre, N.Y. Starbucks location. Our way of easing the tensions of the morning’s work before again picking up the gauntlet for the workday afternoon, is to sit with a beverage, relax, and talk football. As an unmarried fellow, Phil is allowed to wax eloquently about the women that frequent the establishment while my wife, when she joins us, and I can and generally do offer a one or two word summary of his “sightings.” Football, however, no matter what the season, dominates 99% of any conversation and Hubbard and his Raiders team held sway today. In the Long Island area, Colgate University, a Division 1AA school, using the old term for that level of play, is primarily known for its Ivy League level of academics, an outstanding faculty, a beautiful campus, and the fact that many Long Island football players seem to find their way up to what is a relatively isolated campus deep in snow country.



Marv Hubbard’s high school athletic career was not atypical for the type of athletes Colgate did and still attracts. When those who live outside of the New York City area think “New York,” Broadway, the Yankees, and the great theater and restaurants of “the big city” usually come to mind. For those of us who know the difference between “New York State” and New York City, we think “cows, farms, and few people” per square mile once one leaves the City’s northern or western suburbs. Most of New York State is every bit as rural as Indiana though this is an often overlooked fact. Hubbard was an exceptional multi-sport athlete at tiny Randolph High School, a rural outpost near Jamestown, N.Y. in the southwestern part of the state. While Randolph was and remains small, his home in Red House, N.Y. is in the smallest municipality in New York State, thus by any definition, Hubbard, despite tremendous athletic ability, was “small time” in his high school athletic career. While his locale placed him well within the recruiting environs of Penn State, Pitt, and in-state Syracuse, they failed to find him due to Randolph’s tiny size, limited competition, and almost non-existent exposure. Colgate was tipped off by an alumnus in the area and for the Red Raiders, Hubbard was a fortuitous find.


Many forget that long before the Big East Conference, the BCS, and conference realignment to insure intra-conference playoff monies almost all of the big time college teams in the East were Independents. Great rivalries between Penn State and Pitt, Syracuse and Penn State, Holy Cross and Boston College, and Army against everyone else provided Saturday highlights for decades. Colgate was lumped with all of the major powers as well as Holy Cross, Rutgers, and Villanova and every week was a big game. Hubbard’s small town high school career according to some motivated him to excel and to others, put a governor on his confidence but by the time his junior year at Colgate arrived, he and linebacker/fullback Ray Ilg were clear-cut pro prospects. Ilg, the larger of the two at 6’1” and 225 pounds, played linebacker effectively with the Patriots for two years while Hubbard, which may come as a surprise to some, provided the slashing running at 210 compact pounds of muscle. Just as coming from a very small high school program delayed Hubbard’s collegiate development, coming from Colgate left him a bit ill prepared for the realities of the Raiders and the AFL. Knowing little about adjustments that needed to be made to shifting defenses and the multitude of offensive alignments the Raiders utilized, Hubbard once commented, “…I didn’t have any confidence in myself, I was lost. I didn’t know anything about formations. I think we used about two of them at Colgate.” Having never blocked because he was always his team’s outstanding ball carrier, this too was a new skill he just didn’t have. Released by the Raiders, he tried the Denver Broncos with similar results, this termination coming with the addition of a “conflict” with another player. Reluctantly, Hubbard eventually found his way to the Atlantic Coast Football League where most of the teams had a relationship with an NFL “parent team” that assisted with coaching and funding.



Hubbard’s father had a connection for a construction job in Hartford, Connecticut for Marv so the former Colgate star landed with the Hartford Knights where Head Coach Fred Wallner was setting his offensive production upon the shoulders of fullback Mel Meeks, the ACFL rushing and scoring leader. However, by the time the season ended, Hubbard’s nine game production while in the black and gold of the Green Bay Packers’ affiliate minor league team found him as the league’s rushing leader with Meeks not far behind in second place. The battering attack of Hubbard’s 899 yards and Meeks’ 827 resulted in both being named as the All ACFL running backs and the ACFL Championship as Hartford defeated the Virginia Sailors 30-17.


Hubbard powers for yardage as a Hartford Knight


With his weight built up to close to 230, Hubbard attracted quite a bit of interest from a number of NFL teams and with more lucrative contract offers than the Raiders had given him. Unfortunately, Al Davis, ever vigilant and ever slick, noted every yard that Hubbard had gained in the East Coast minor league, his All ACFL status, and quickly reminded the fullback that he had signed two separate one-year contracts with the Raiders. While cutting him released him from his first contract, he still had a binding one-year commitment to the Raiders and they had every intention of collecting on it now that Hubbard had proven worthy.


Rather than being upset with Oakland, Hubbard embraced the opportunity and proved himself on special teams. It wasn’t until the 1971 season that he broke out, once given the opportunity on offense.  On a team of backs with more flash and dash he reeled off four consecutive seasons where he gained 800 yards or more, with his 1100 yard 1972 season being his best. By 1975 however, a shoulder injury had slowed him and fellow Colgate alum Mark Van Eeghen had become the go-to fullback.



Hubbard was eased out, spending 1977, his final pro season, with the Detroit Lions. Hubbard’s toughness and enthusiasm running the ball, especially when he did it against the Chiefs, made him a hero to Raiders fans. Generally quiet, he became almost loquacious when addressing the press about his animosity towards KC. He would yell across the line of scrimmage, letting the Chiefs know he was carrying the ball and daring them to tackle him. Chiefs’ fans were known to spit on him and scream the worst of profanities. In the super hot rivalry that the two teams carried through the AFL and early merger of the leagues era, Hubbard personified the hatred that was palpable between the squads. His toughness on the field earned him the respect of his peers and made Hubbard a favorite of Raiders fans yet he never truly received his due despite being a Pro Bowl performer.