— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) May 5, 2015
The Raiders tonight announced the passing for Marv Hubbard – who played fullback for the team from 1969 to 1975. He passed away at the age of 68.
A fullback wearing jersey #44, Hubbard was famous for his punishing mano-a-mano duels with Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Lanier. He was not a shifty back, and did not evade contact. Powerfully built, he was famous for crashing headlong into defenders, with little regard for his own well-being.
Though never a star, Hubbard in his prime was an unusually productive player. Of note was his extremely high per-carry average. Over the course of their careers, most of the best running backs average a little over 4 yards per carry. Only a few (Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders, OJ Simpson among them) exceed 4.5. Hubbard averaged 4.82 yards per carry. The most obvious explanation is the great offensive lines he ran behind. Early in his career he had Bob Brown, Art Shell, Gene Upshaw and Jim Otto blocking for him, all Pro Football Hall of Famers. Later in Hubbard’s career, Brown and Otto retired and they were replaced by John Vella and Dave Dalby. respectively. The sports writers perhaps didn’t give him the respect he deserved as he was never nominated for an “All-Pro” team, but the players and coaches in the NFL respected him and he did earn three trips to Pro Bowl as the backup fullback for the AFC.
However, Hubbard’s career did not start impressively. He played for the Hartford Knights of the Atlantic Coast Football League. After being drafted in the 11th round (277th overall) of the 1968 AFL Draft by Oakland, he was cut. He then went to the Canadian Football League, where he spent two seasons learning how to block. But after returning to the Raiders, he teamed in the backfield with halfback Charlie Smith and became a potent weapon, especially in short-yardage situations. He made the AFC all-star team with the Raiders in 1971, 1972, and 1973. His roughhouse style of play eventually caught up with Hubbard, resulting in a nagging shoulder injury that forced him to miss most of the 1975 season. He spent the entire 1976 season on the injured reserve list and was eclipsed during his injury by his groomed replacement, fellow Colgate alum Mark van Eeghen. He signed with the Detroit Lions, where he saw spot duty during the 1977 season, after which he retired from the NFL.