Here are a few stories about Marv Fleming, starting with several from the man himself, with fan stories below:

Draft Selection Call from Vince Lombardi: It was an honor to become a Green Bay Packer player and be under the tutelage of Vince Lombardi.  Initially, when I first got the call from the man who would forever change my life, I didn’t believe it was him. I apologized profusely as Coach Bill Austin had to get on the phone to convince me, the young man from Compton, that it was indeed the greatest Coach of all time, Vince Lombardi, who was on the phone and that he wanted me to play for him!!! I was thrilled, scared and incredulous.

Lombardi Sees My Potential: I say today if Coach Lombardi was with any team other than the Green Bay Packers, they would have won also. He had a knack for pulling the best out of you. When I got there, I was 20 years old and I was still learning, still growing. He saw potential in me, pulled me aside and said, Marvin, I’m going to be on your butt, but I’m going to make you a good football player. I’m going to make you a star in this league. I said to myself, Make me a star and you can be on my butt all you want.

There are many ways in which a great leader can get though to his followers. All I needed was Coach Lombardi’s pat on my back or his touch on my shoulder as he said Marvin. This would demonstrate to me his recognition and acknowledgment of my worth. It always propelled me to new levels. I found out later that Lombardi was always toughest on his best players.

My Whole Life Changed in the first year with the Green Bay Packers. I learned what the word responsibility really meant.  The older players wanted me to grow up and be a man. To them that meant getting married, taking out a mortgage and having children. I grew up very fast in that kind of adult world. My rookie year was the toughest time period in my life. I learned that the harder you work, the luckier you get; that perfect practice makes perfect. I was like a lamb thrown in with the lions and I loved every grueling minute of it.

Getting my First Football Paycheck was a real thrill as I had been scouting out an expensive new stereo system. My first check was for five thousand dollars – an enormous amount of money for me at the time. I took it to the bank and nervously handed the check to the teller. She asked, What denomination? I actually replied, I’m Baptist. She said, No, I mean do you want your cash in fifties or one hundreds? I was totally embarrassed, so I looked around to see if anyone had heard what I had said. With cash in hand I walked around downtown feeling like a millionaire but then something happened, I no longer had any interest in buying the stereo anymore. From that point on, I bought only things that I truly needed. I have remained that way ever since.

Becoming a Man In Green Bay: Once during roll call, Coach Lombardi bellowed out, Fleming, stay out of the teen bars – the babysitters are seeing you there and I want you to stay out of trouble. I protested that I wasn’t quite 21 years old yet and I wasn’t allowed in regular bars. He said, In that case, stay home. Green Bay was such a small town that it seems as if everyone knew everyone, especially if you were a Packer football player. Coach Lombardi had little trouble finding out what his team was up to.

Pursuit Of Perfection: After yelling and screaming at us, Coach Lombardi sometimes apologized for getting so upset. I remember him saying about our team, It’s not like I’m dealing with the finest minds in the country.  He certainly never let anyone on the team get relaxed or complacent. During training camp he would have us go practice plays over and over again, until it seemed we could run them in our sleep. We would train so hard that I’m sure it passed through many players’ minds to just quit. In fact, one of his favorite expressions was, Don’t you go and quit on me, let me quit on you.

Taking Ownership for my Actions: At the end of my senior year in college I drove my VW home to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City. Being on a college student budget I had only $20 with which to pay for gas and food. Stopping for a break in Las Vegas, I ate and started playing the quarter slot machines and soon was up $10. I then proceeded to lose every cent I had.

Sitting in my VW, I realized that my gas tank was completely empty so I tried to figure out my next move. Suddenly, I noticed a big huge Cadillac from New York City in front of me. In desperation I used a hose to siphon gas from it. However, I was honest enough to leave a note providing my name, address and phone number so that I might reimburse the owner for the gas but I never heard from anyone  Two years went by and I had forgotten all about the incident.

I was now a member of the Green Bay Packers. As I was getting off the team bus in New York to play the New York Giants, two men in plain clothes approached me identifying themselves as NYPD officers. They asked me if I was Marv Fleming but I was convinced they had the wrong person, as I knew I had done nothing wrong. But there I was in the corner of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, one of the most prestigious hotels in New York City, being interrogated. Naturally, it was all was very embarrassing, especially as my teammates were laughing and yelling at me to Pay the alimony payments! which would have been very difficult for me to do since I was never married.

Once the detectives were satisfied that I was the one who left the note on the Cadillac in Las Vegas, they waved over a group of people who were waiting with photographers. The very impressive gentleman leading the group asked if I was Marv Fleming. Once again, I said, Yes.  He said he was pleased to meet me and that he had been waiting for two years to catch up with me.

It turned out that the owner of the car I had siphoned gas from was none other than the Police Chief of New York City. The headlines the next day read Police Chief finally gets his man. I later learned that when the Police Chief returned from Las Vegas, he asked his son if he had ever heard of a football player named Marv Fleming. When his son told his father who I was he said, We’ll just wait until he comes to play football in New York City. We ended up becoming friends and from that time on I could do no wrong in New York City.

Coach of Life: Lombardi was not only a coach of football but a coach of life. He was a father figure to me, making me the man I am today. Coach Lombardi’s values, morals and integrity define me and my Green Bay Packer team-mates. To this day we are brothers, there for each other, as Coach Lombardi believed the most important things in life were family, occupation and religion. All these years later we are still on Lombardi time when we gather for team meetings, 15 minutes early.

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Time for a Change: I woke up one morning in Green Bay and realized that it was time for me to leave. It was a very difficult decision to make after being on all those championship teams with the Packers  I had also built up many lifelong friendships with team-mates and fans who I would miss.

Miami was certainly very different from Green Bay. In Green Bay you were an influential person if you knew the road commissioner in case you got a traffic ticket and the game warden in case you wanted to go hunting. Miami was a much larger and more cosmopolitan center. Miami’s beautiful climate and life-embracing culture attracted interesting people from all over the world.  And of course, having a name like Marvin endeared me to the large Jewish population in Miami.

Becoming a Trendsetter: I was probably one of the first professional athletes to wear an earring. Trust me, it wasn’t a fashionable thing to do back in the late 60’s but I didn’t care. I liked it. And I knew who I was.

I went to camp with it on and in the back of my mind I wondered what Coach Shula’s response would be. I purposely went in to see him in his office. While talking to him I would conspicuously turn my head from one side to the other. I finally gave up and asked him if he noticed anything different. Without even looking up he said, Yes Marv, I think you’ve lost one of your earrings.  Coach Shula said that it was his best comeback ever. He then started to actually get down on the floor to look for it. We had a good laugh. That was Coach Shula’s way of letting me know he thought I was all right regardless of what I wore.

An Undefeated Season: One of my favorite memories comes from the 1972 Undefeated Miami Dolphins Season. We defeated Buffalo, in game 8, winning 30-16. I was really happy to make a touchdown to help secure our victory. I have always had a great respect for money and saving so I was absolutely thrilled, that as a bonus, I found a folded $10 bill in the end zone when I made the touchdown. My team-mates said that I appeared to be more excited to find the $10 than making the touchdown. They knew me so well.

Playing with pain: As for each individual player, the physical pain of professional football can be quite excruciating. When fans speak of the glamor of football, I always ask that they envision running into a brick wall, all day long, as this was our reality. And then there are the injuries which have to be dealt with. Whenever the work got so hard that I momentarily thought of quitting, all I would have to do is remind myself of life on the streets in South Central Los Angeles.

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The Most Fortunate Player of All Time: I often think that I’m probably one of the most fortunate professional football players ever, and here is why:

  1. I played for two of the greatest football coaches ever, Vince Lombardi and Don Shula.
  2. I played with two of the greatest teams that ever existed, the Green Bay Packers and the Miami Dolphins.
  3. I lasted for 13 seasons.
  4. I never played on a losing season.
  5. I played in five Super Bowls.
  6. My biggest injury was dislocating my little pinky finger.  And I occasionally got my feelings hurt.
  7. I played on a perfect 17-0 season with the Miami Dolphins.
  8. I put aside enough money to start a nest egg for myself.

Learning Life’s Lessons: I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, It’s better to be a has-been than a never-was. In my case football taught me a great deal about my character and make up.  It taught me how to interact with people in many situations.  I have been put into many stressful situations and come out of them in a positive manner.  I know that playing in sports has a lot to do with your physical make-up, but I think it was my mental make-up that kept me in the winner’s circle for so long.

Lots of people get hung up with life’s many hurdles and forget about the big picture  I’ve climbed a lot of mountains in my life, and made it to the top of most of them. I’ve worked hard to be the best I can be and am very grateful for and tremendously appreciative of the opportunities that life has brought my way.  I am blessed to have my family, team-mates, friends and to enjoy good health.

The Joy of Reading
Some time ago, I was talking at a school assembly in Wisconsin.  One of the teachers asked me to  write something about reading so the students could be motivated to read.  It was so well received, for some time it was hanging in the Wisconsin State Capitol.  Here it is:

Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, reading wasn’t my first priority. I was busy trying to be the one that jumped the highest, ran the fastest and made more baskets and touchdowns than anyone. I wanted to be the strongest kid around.

I discovered reading and how it could really help you in life. I learned that the better paying jobs were given to people who read well. After taking classes in how to read, I learned that reading was a wonderful thing, and I really enjoyed it. Learning how to read gave me the knowledge and confidence to ask and answer a lot questions. I always wanted to be a better person, and do the right thing. This new found love of reading helped point me in the right direction.

Reading has made me the person I am today. I have been to the moon before the astronauts have.  I have climbed Mount Everest more often than Sir Edmund Hillary.  I have been swimming and talking with the Dolphins.  I have trekked across the Antarctica through the blinding snows.  I have been humbled by Mother Teresa’s ministering in the slums of Calcutta.  I have soared with the American Bald Eagles in the high heavens. I have fought in many wars and battles and still survived death. And I have relaxed on a riverboat churning along the lazy Mississippi River.

I have experienced so much more than the average man or woman in my travels across the world, yet I don’t even have jet lag. It doesn’t cost me but pennies to go. I don’t need a passport, I only need my library card. My mind and my ability to read, open all the doors I choose to open. The only limitation I have is me. I go to wherever my dreams take me. Where will your dreams take you?

I’ll leave you with this thought. The great Author Mark Twain once said, A person that doesn’t read has no great advantage over a person who can’t read.

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Giving Back in Toronto: Marv is an active supporter of the Herbie Fund at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.  The

Herbie Fund brings children from the international community for lifesaving medical care at the Hospital for Sick Children. These children can’t afford this medical care nor access this care in their country of origin.
The Doctors at Sick Kids donate their medical skills and the volunteers at the Herbie Fund raise the money to pay for all medical costs.

On the Photos page, you can see a photo of Marv with conjoined twins from Zimbabwe who were separated at Sick Kids. They are now two healthy boys leading separate and active lives, thanks to the Herbie Fund.

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FAN MEMORIES:

Childhood Memories of Marv Fleming

Marv and I grew up together in Compton, California. We met in 7th grade at Walton Jr. High, and graduated from Compton High School in 1959. During those years I considered Marv to be a good friend. Unfortunately, we played the same sports positions, so I never did have a sports career.

During the early 1960s, Marv attended the University of Utah, and I attended Brigham Young University. One weekend, while my roommate was away, Marv traveled down to Provo and spent the weekend with me in my dorm room. We had a tremendous time, and I recall shocking my conservative classmates by having this huge black man at my side in the cafeteria, in my dorm room and in our community shower room in the dorm. One humorous incident was when a dorm resident from the South, raced into my room and screeched to a halt when he saw 6′ 4″ Marv sitting on the bed. I’ve laughed many times over the years remembering the look on his face.

I’m proud to say that Marv has been a part of my life – – best wishes to him in the future.

Ron Upton, Reno, Nevada 10/22/2011.

 

The Best Missed Flight of All Time

In the fall of 2007 my husband Craig and I set out for Green Bay to be part of Legends weekend. Little did we know that we would end up spending the weekend with a Packers Legend.

Bad weather caused us to miss our connecting flight out of Minneapolis. The next flight was 10 hours later. After browsing through every store and endless hours of people watching we boarded our flight. A nice gentleman sitting next to me asked if I  was a Packers fan, not telling me who he was. I was sure Craig knew all about the Packers. He admitted to being headed to Green Bay for Legends weekend also, but did not tell us who he was.

After much guessing and hints (Craig has been a Packer fan since he was 8) the gentleman revealed himself at the baggage claim area to be Marv Fleming.

Then the football stories and questions began. We discovered that not only was he a great football player, he was also a nice person.

Marv invited us to be his guests for the weekend. What an experience this was for the two of us.

We attended the Legends banquet along with Marv. Craig was able to meet several Packer legends that he had watched for years. We went along to the parade, the memorabilia signing, and of course the big game with the Bears, which the Packers won. Marv was the guest of honor at the grand opening of a new theater at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.  He invited us to attend this event also.

We had a marvelous weekend that was made so by the kindness of a man who did not know us. In the years since, we never know when the phone will ring and Marv will call for a chat.

A late flight granted us the opportunity to get to know this truly kind and generous man. You can be sure that we both own and wear our Fleming 81 jerseys.

Teresa Elton, Parshall ND

Marv and I Through the Years

Both my parents are originally from Green Bay, WI.  However, when I was born, we lived in Oconto WI, 30 miles North of Green Bay.  Our family moved back to Green Bay when I was 12 years old, going into the 6th grade.  My Dad was connected with the Packers as a pilot for Green Bay Aviation, before he became the sole owner.  He flew Bart Starr, Doug Hart and other players.  He flew Mr. & Mrs. Lombardi, and is even pictured on page 150 of ‘Vince Lombardi: My Life and Times’.  Wow, my Dad knew the Packers!

Our entire family are huge Packers fans, including me since I was 6 years old.  My neighborhood friends and I would walk to the stadium every day to watch the Packers two-a-day practices.  The three mile walk was not so long for 12 year old kids who picked up various friends along the way.  We would greet the players as they came out from the locker room and we would walk toward the practice field across Oneida Street.  This allowed us to be up close with the players.  Some players rode kids bikes down to the practice field and back, a that tradition that continues to this day.  We would stay all day and had the luxury of eating at the Packers food shed across from the practice field on Oneida Street.  When the players broke for lunch so did we.  We would eat hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, candy bars and soda until the players returned.  We had a blast.

Everyone had their favorite player, mine was Marv Fleming.  He was a Bill Cosby look-alike, and I loved the Cosby Show.  Marv was a cool dude!  Just a hello and talking to him regularly going down to the practice field was really neat.  I’d share my binoculars with Marv.  He said he never saw the East so close up!  From days to weeks, months and years, Marv is still my favorite Packer.  He is a true gentlemen, kind, caring and we have had a wonderful friendship through all this time, even until today.  That is now over 45 years!

I recall when I was in 9th grade, several Packers players lived on Lori Lane, across from Franklin Junior High School.  Good and not so good for me personally.  I would watch Marv Fleming, Bob Jeter and Claudis James coming and going so much my grades were not doing too good.  My Grandpa made me a deal; to take me to the games ‘IF’ my grades improved, which they did.  I sat in Section 9, Row 45; while Grandpa cooked a tasty supper after the game for our relatives that came from out of town.  And yes I was at the Ice Bowl and nearly froze my feet, but it was one of the most memorable games in Packers history.

Time when on, and in 1969 Marv was playing out his option with the Packers.  I was sad to see him go.  Marv was rumored to be trading his playing days to star in films.  At least I could see him on the big screen.  However, the Miami Dolphins picked him up; so I was now a Packers and Dolphins fan.  I wrote to him and he wrote back!  How cool was that?!!  While Marv was campaigning in Milwaukee for McGovern for President, he gave me a call at home just before I was leaving to go to school that morning.  That was so nice of him and certainly made my day; even though I was still too young to vote.

Time again rolls on and in September of 2001, the Packers were planning a gathering of ‘Old’ Time Legends’ here in Green Bay.  It was held downtown in the Boston Store parking area.  My heart was pounding when I read in the Green Bay Press-Gazette that Marv Fleming was listed with everyone who was coming.  I was so happy to see him again with the others on the team.  It was awesome.  The guys are still so close knit they keep coming back for well-deserved recognition.  Recovering from knee surgery three months prior, there was no way I was going to miss this celebration.  I made a sign that said the Packers were In Vinceable, and another to recognize my favorite of all time, Marv Fleming.  I made the paper and was included in the video ‘With Love and Respect’.  Marv and I connected after the program and exchanged email addresses and had our photo taken for old time’s sake.  Today, our friendship has grown into something special that we converse often.

I attended his induction ceremony into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 2010.  I sent him my personal artwork of Marv, showing him in the famous Packers Sweep that made the Packers so successful.  I too have the framed photo signed by the great man himself.

Opportunities like this come only in dreams, but my dream of such a special and wonderful man is real.  I am proud of his outstanding accomplishments and to know him personally.  Thanks to all the Lombardi legends – I am happy to have lived in the Lombardi era.  And to the other ‘Legends’ thank you for all the memories of the good old days.

Marcia Jubin, Green Bay WI