Become a Vegas Insider
The Raider Nation Perspective is a series showcasing contributions from Raider fans. Our Raider Nation perspective today comes from Mike Cordaro and gives us a glimps into the Raiders of years past. Share the Raider love & follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeCordaro1).
To understand what the Oakland Raiders were to pro football in the late AFL days and the years after the merger with the NFL in 1970 is to figure out how Al Davis continued to find top-drawer talent on the sale racks of small colleges, minor leagues and late round draft picks.
Marv Hubbard was one such find, an 11th round selection in 1968, the same draft that produced Hall of Famers Ken Stabler and Art Shell, along with future Raider stalwarts Charlie Smith and George Atkinson.
In fact, Hubbard qualified on all 3 counts, besides being the 277th overall pick, he came from a small school, Colgate University, and after failing to make the Oakland squad in his first try, was brought back after a stint in minor league ball on the East coast.
After making his mark on special teams in John Madden’s first 2 years as head coach, he finally broke through into the starting backfield in 1971 and proceeded to lead the team in rushing four years in a row until an injury limited him to half a season in 1975.
Hubbard was tough and durable for those wildly successful Oakland teams that were known as much for their aggressive play as their winning ways.
Hubbard was a fan favorite because of his battering ram style, rather than avoiding contact, he sought it out and relished it. At one point, he wore a helmet with outside padding to cushion the blows he would receive and administer each time he carried the ball.
Despite this extra protection, Hubbard sustained numerous concussions in the days when players refused to take time off for head injuries.
Marv also hated the Raiders’ main rival when he joined the team, the Kansas City Chiefs. Since the hatred was mutual and the Oakland fans felt the same way, Hubbard’s open hostility toward the Chiefs endeared him to the denizens of the Coliseum to the point that one of the most prominent signs hanging off the railings at Raider games read ‘It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Hubbard.’
During one of their many physical clashes with the ‘the hated Chiefs’, Hubbard yelled from the huddle at the defense ‘I’m coming at you!’ Later Gene Upshaw, the Hall of Fame guard, told Hubbard that perhaps he could keep the Raider plays a secret in the future since he was attempting to open holes for Marv vs a series of All Pro linemen.
SAVE BIG IN VEGAS
Hubbard set a then Oakland record of 1,100 rushing yards in 1972 and averaged 4.8 yards per carry for his career, which remains 3rd all-time among fullbacks, a position that has virtually gone the way of the dinosaur.
In many ways, Hubbard himself was a dinosaur with his punishing runs and bruising blocks paving the way for his more heralded teammates one of the most prolific offenses of the 1970s. He played a large role in some of the incredible ‘Games with Names’, such as the Immaculate Reception and the Sea of Hands.
Hubbard’s 1975 shoulder injury proved devastating to his career, as he was finished as a starter at age 29. Equally cruel was the fact that Oakland finally won their first Super Bowl after the 1976 season, which Marv missed in its entirety recovering from surgery.
Hubbard was awarded a Super Bowl ring by his ever grateful teammates anyway, but after years of leaving it all on the field, he was deprived of the ultimate victory. Three straight runs to the AFC title game from 1973-75 with Hubbard as their top back left those fine Raider teams one win short of the promised land.
Hubbard was too proud to go out on the injured list, so with fellow Colgate alum Mark van Eeghen having supplanted him as the starting fullback, he went on to the Detroit Lions for a final go around in 1977.
Marv passed away in 2015 from complications of prostate cancer, but he left a lasting impact on Raider fans, players and opponents who crossed paths with him during some of the Oakland Raiders’ best seasons, games and moments.