Hubbard still a classic Raider
By CHARLES WHISNAND
Appeal Sports Editor
While Marv Hubbard was certainly among the most athletic fullbacks of his era, there's no denying that he was a lunch bucket type of guy like all of the Oakland Raiders who played during that time.
So, it's not surprising that Hubbard wasn't that excited when the Raiders took Arkansas running back Darren McFadden with the fourth overall pick in the National Football League Draft on Saturday.
"I think the Raiders need linemen," said Hubbard during the Carson City Raiders Booster Club draft party at Q's Restaurant.
While Hubbard admitted that McFadden is a great athlete, he said he would like to see the Raiders build more of a nucleus around those athletes. He said in recent years, the Raiders have stressed going after athletic players too much without building a nucleus around them and that's why they've struggled.
"The philosophy when we played was like building a house," Hubbard said. "If you didn't start with a real good foundation, chances are your house will collapse."
Hubbard said the Raiders won't be able to return to their past glory until they return to that philosophy. Plus, the Raiders are already stocked at running back with Justin Fargas, who had a breakout season last year, Dominic Rhodes and Lamont Jordan. In addition, there's Michael Bush, who missed last year with an injury, but is considered to be a player who potentially could be a frontline running back.
Hubbard pointed to 6-51Ú4, 320-pound Chad Rinehart as a player who he thought fit the mold of what the Raiders need the most. Hubbard said he likes less heralded players like Rinehart, who played at Northern Iowa.
A similar player to Rinehart who personified the Raiders when he played, Hubbard said, was 6-0, 250-pound guard Wayne Hawkins. Hubbard said nobody knew "how high he could jump, how fast he could run. When Wayne put his helmet on you, it stayed on you."
Hubbard was drafted in the seventh round by the Raiders in 1968, a year that has been argued to provide the greatest draft in team history. Hubbard became a Pro Bowler and played with the Raiders through 1975.
In Hubbard's mind the NFL Draft could be renamed "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" or as he put it, "the making of millionaires."
But Hubbard admitted that by the standards when he entered the draft, players then were also making a lot of money. The American Football League and NFL had separate drafts and got involved in bidding wars for many players which led to the two leagues merging.
The first year of the joint NFL-AFL draft just happened to be 1968. "My timing was a little off," Hubbard said.
Still, Hubbard signed for $1,500, and even though he gave $150 to his agent, that was still a lot of money then.
"You were doing very well, with that kind of money, " he said.
But Hubbard also had other jobs during the offseason, something that was normal for players in Hubbard's era. Construction and real estate were among Hubbard's offseason jobs.
Hubbard came from Western New York and still has a home in the area. He admitted being from Western New York, "I didn't even know where Oakland was."
He came from an area pretty much right in the middle of the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns and ended up as a Browns fan. But he ended up having hard feelings to the Steelers to this day.
The Raiders and Steelers had one of the NFL's most heated rivalries in NFL history during the 1970s, and Hubbard admitted that he still can't "warm up" to the Steelers mainly "because of that stupid Immaculate Reception game." Or as a lot of the Raiders, including Hubbard puts it, the "Immaculate Deception game."
In the most famous play in NFL history, Franco Harris caught - or did he? - a ball just off the ground off a deflection and ran for a touchdown in the final seconds to allow the Steelers to stun the Raiders 13-7 in the 1972 playoffs.
But Hubbard was also part of a game that featured another one of the NFL's most famous receptions - the "Sea of Hands" game. In the final seconds as he was being taken down, Ken Stabler flipped the ball into the end zone where Clarence Davis outfought three Miami Dolphins for the ball for the touchdown that gave the Raiders a 28-26 win in the 1974 playoffs.
Both Hubbard and Davis were safety valves on the play. "I was the first guy to signal touchdown," Hubbard said.
What made the play more remarkable was the fact that Davis wasn't really considered much of a receiver.
"'I go where's he throwing it to,'" said Hubbard about his initial reaction. "'Oh no, he's throwing it to Clarence.'"
Hubbard said he was actually preparing for an interception and to make a tackle at the 1-yard line or possibly even in the end zone for a safety to keep the Raiders' slim chances alive.
During his career, Hubbard played with Hall of Famers Art Shell, Jim Otto and Gene Upshaw.
Hubbard said he tells those players "it's my running style that got you guys into the Hall of Fame because you had to hold our blocks so long so I could get to the hole. If they missed a block they [thought] they had a bad day."
But Hubbard is proud of his career yards-per-carry average, which is nearly 5.0, one of the highest in NFL history. And Hubbard is also proud of the relationship he still has with Raider fans, including those from Carson City.
"I like the people here," said Hubbard, who has been to Carson several times. "I've always had a good time here."