"GOLDEN WHEELS" RETURNS TO THE MAIN STAGE
Elbert Dubenion. That name commanded respect from Bluffton College football opponents from 1955-58 and from teams around the American Football League for an entire decade. And although most Bluffton sports fans know the name and might have even met the man, few have seen him play. Until now. Check out the video clips below to see why Dubenion was nicknamed "Golden Wheels" and went on to set numerous records at both Bluffton and as a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills.
DUBENION STILL A LEGEND, AND STILL RECEIVING HONORS
By Tim Stried
April 15, 2003
Elbert Dubenion's list of records and accomplishments goes on and on. And after one takes a look at those video clips, the reasons are obvious.
As professional defensive backs and linebackers were left in his dust throughout the 1960s, one can only imagine what his collegiate opponents in the late 1950s must have thought.
Dubenion was a four-time first-team All-Mid Ohio League selection while at Bluffton and earned first-team Little All-American honors his senior season when he ranked third in the nation in rushing (1,288 yards, 9.0 per carry). He actually gained more yards (1,341) as a junior, when he ranked second in the country in rushing.
He ended his college playing days with 4,735 yards and 53 touchdowns and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1959. Due to an injury, however, Dubenion never suited up for the Browns, and the following year he signed with the upstart Buffalo Bills of the American Football League.
And Dubenion's impact on the professional football scene was almost as sudden and dramatic as it had been on the college scene. He was named the Bill's most-valuable-player as a rookie in 1960 and became the first player in franchise history to gain 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He was selected to the AFL All-Star Game in 1964 and 1965.
Winning followed Dubenion, who never lost an MOL game in a Bluffton uniform (20-0), and then helped lead the Bills to the AFL title in 1964.
And add to his football statistics the fact that in four years on the Bluffton track team, he never once lost a 100-yard dash race to another small college athlete. And add to that the fact that Dubenion was also a talented basketball player, who once grabbed 23 rebounds in one game in Founders Hall, where the Beavers still play today. It's no wonder why the student body selected Dubenion as the Most Popular Man on May Day, 1959.
An NFL scout for many years, most recently for the Atlanta Falcons, Dubenion is now retired and lives in Westerville, Ohio, and annually makes the trek to Northwest Ohio for the Annual Bluffton College Alumni Golf Outing. A charter member of the Bluffton College Hall of Fame in 1974, Dubenion was the eighth person selected for the Bill's Wall of Fame in 1993, and that same year he was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Hall of Fame.
But the awards keep on coming in for the Bluffton legend, albeit unofficially. In February Dubenion's name was listed as a charter member of the American Football League Hall of Fame, a project that originated in New York and that one can read more about at www.conigliofamily.com/AFLHallofFame.htm.
The text below is an excerpt from that Web site:
"Elbert Dubenion had tremendous speed, great hands and excellent running skills. As a rookie for the Buffalo Bills in 1960, "Duby" or "Golden Wheels" had 7 touchdowns and 752 receiving yards on 42 catches, a 17.9 yds/catch average. He ran 16 times for 94 yards and a TD, a 5.6 yds/ carry average. In 1961, facing tighter and deeper coverages, he upped his production as a runner, rushing for 173 yards and a touchdown on just 17 carries, a 10.3 yds/carry average. He had 31 catches for 461 yards and 6 TDs. In 1964, Duby had one of the most sensational seasons of any receiver in pro football history, 10 touchdowns and 27.1 yards per catch on 42 receptions for 1,139 yards, (14 game season). In 9 seasons, he totalled 296 receptions for 5,424 yards and 36 TDs for a career average of 18.3 yds/catch. He rushed for 360 yards and 3 TDs on 48 carries, a career average of 7 yds/carry."