How many NFL players have been inducted into both the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.?
Only one … and he was a member of the Green Bay Packers.
Meet Robert Calvin “Cal” Hubbard, the 6-4, 250-pound offensive tackle and end. By 1920s standards, Cal was huge. He had an awesome combination of speed and strength. He was considered the most feared lineman of his time.
Cal played in the NFL from 1927-36 for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. He played on four NFL championship teams including three straight with the Packers in 1929-31. Hubbard was All-NFL six years, is a member of the All-1920s team and was named NFL’s all-time offensive tackle in 1969.
It was interesting how Cal found his way to the Packers. According to Mary Hubbard’s book [see credits], the Giants were scheduled to play the Packers in Green Bay late in the 1928 season. According to the story, Packers fans were so impressed with Cal’s natural ability and tenacity that they started a movement to get him to join the team.
The next week, the Giants were scheduled to play the Bears in Chicago, so they decided to stay in Green Bay for the week. During that time, Hubbard made many friends and was charmed by the friendly demeanor of the small town.
When Cal returned to New York, he asked to be traded to the Packers. The Giants needed a quarterback and the Packers needed a tackle and end. In the Fall of 1929, Cal Hubbard was traded to the Packers for quarterback Al Bloodgood.
A NY Times sportswriter Arthur Daley quote from Cal’s good friend, former teammate and coach, Steve Owen, provides a vivid description of who Cal was on the football field:
“According to Steve Owen — it was Hubbard who revolutionized defensive play. The seven man line was the accepted defense until restless Cal discovered he was missing too much fun and too many tackles by staying anchored in one spot in the scrimmage line. Because he was so fast he was able to stay back a few yards and either plug up the hole he had vacated or make tackles on the other side of the line. Thus he became the first roving backer-up. Steve also tells how Cal would occasionally station himself as a flanking end and hurl him his two hundred and sixty pounds at the enemy line, spilling his opposition like bowling pins.”
So Cal Hubbard became the league’s first ever line backer-up or linebacker.
Another story from the NY Times describes a blood-letting brawl in a game between the Packers and the Chicago Cardinals. From the opening minute of the game, Phil Handler, a Cardinal substitute, kept trying to provoke Hubbard into a fight so they would both be tossed from the game. Cal was too smart for that.
“Get away from me–small change” snarled Cal, “I’m not getting tossed out for the likes of you.” After the Packers finally scored, there was a free for all. When the ruckus began to subside, Cal was standing all alone under the goal posts. Handler walked over. The field had been cleared and play was about to resume, when Handler was discovered out cold. There were no witnesses. But Hubbard nursing a bruised fist, was wearing a most beatific smile.” — “A forthright gentleman Mr. Hubbard.”
As a football player, Cal was a rough and tough as they came.
In the 1936 NFL Championship game against Boston, Hubbard saw teammate Les Corzine’s leg get snapped and decided that was the end of his gridiron career.
“Well boys, if I’ve ever done anything to you all in my professional career, you’ve got a minute to settle the grudge,” Hubbard told his Giants teammates in the locker room. “This is positively my last football game.”