Elbert Dubenion

Elbert Dubenion

Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver

In 1960, a free agent from little Blufton College joined the Buffalo Bills to try and make the team as a flanker back, today’s equivalent of a wideout or wide receiver. His name was Elbert Dubenion. At 5-11 and 187 pounds, he possessed tremendous speed, great hands and excellent skills as a runner. It did not take long for Dubenion to become a crowd favorite. An exciting receiver, especially after making the catch, he was fun to watch. Before long, the fans were fondly calling him “Duby” or “Golden Wheels” in tribute to his sensational speed.

As a rookie, Dubenion quickly proved his worth. He scored seven touchdowns and racked up 752 receiving yards on 42 catches, a 17.9 yards per catch average. In addition he ran the ball 16 times for 94 yards and one touchdown, a 5.6 yards per carry average. The following season defensive backs paid him much greater respect. So, facing tighter and deeper coverages, he upped his production as a runner, rushing for 173 yards and one touchdown on just 17 carries, a 10.3 per carry average. In addition, he had 31 catches for 461 yards and six touchdowns.

In 1964, Duby enjoyed 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 a total of 1,139 yards, all in a 14 game season. In nine seasons, he racked up 296 receptions for 5,424 yards and 36 touchdowns for a career average of 18.3 yards per catch. He also rushed for 360 yards and three touchdowns on just 48 carries, a career average of seven yards per carry. By the time he retired in 1968, Duby had set virtually every receiving record in the early “glory years” when the Bills reigned as one of the premier teams in the American Football League. A man of great humor, he also retired as one of the team’s most popular players.

Golden Wheels’ importance to the Bills cannot be measured in purely statistical terms. He joined the team when the AFL was a shaky league struggling through it’s infancy. Dubenion was the first great star in the franchises’ formative years, the first player the fans could hang their hat on. His exciting play helped the Bills and the AFL become viable. And, through it all, he maintained his humility and his great sense of humor. He was not only a great player, but one of the true gentlemen of the game.