In celebration of his 100th birthday today I’d like to spotlight and show love to the award winning college football Coach Eddie Robinson. Although I never met Coach Robinson I feel like I know him well. Growing up my father constantly quoted the coach whom he referred to as, “Coach Rob” with love and admiration. Many a conversations began with, “Coach Rob always said…”
“They call me the greatest. I know that the greatest football coach who ever stepped on the field is Coach Eddie Robinson. I have admired what he has done in turning boys into men. He is a credit to his sport as well as a credit to humanity.”
Coach Robinson was born February 13, 1919 in Jackson, Louisiana. The son of a sharecropper graduated from McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge in 1937. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Leland College in Baker, Louisiana. In 1954, Coach Rob was awarded a master’s degree from the University of Iowa where he also joined Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. While he was the first in his family to accomplish these feats, his parents encouraged him to pursue his education even though neither graduated from high school.
“Coach Rob did a lot more for us than teach us about football. He used to come through the halls early in the morning with a cowbell, waking us up for class and for church.”
Everson Walls, former Grambling and NFL cornerback
In 1941, Coach Robinson joined Grambling University (then called Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute) as the football coach and physical education teacher. He started with very little staff and resources and grew the organization himself. Coach Rob is a testament to the ago old idiom if you want it done right you’ve got to do it yourself. He taped ankles, cut the grass, even wrote game reviews for local newspapers himself.
“He was a role model, and a pacesetter. He took black college football to the big stadiums nationally and internationally. The Grambling football team and marching band became a worldwide frame of reference.”
Reverend Jesse Jackson
Coach Eddie Robinson was the first coach to claim over 400 victories. winning 17 championships in the SWAC conference. During his tenure at Grambling State University the school held the championship title nine times for Black Colleges and established a record breaking streak of 27 consecutive winning seasons beginning in 1960 until 1986. His suit and tie sophistication, compassion for his players, and ability to rally players for the game of life are memories many of his players share about their experiences with the legendary Coach Rob.
“Eddie Robinson’s name is synonymous with the sport of football. We will be forever grateful for the more than 200 young men he developed at Grambling who starred in the NFL and those who later coached the next generation of NFL players. He always focused on coaching his players to be better men as well as better football players.”
Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner
More than 200 scholar athletes from the Grambling State University football program went on to play professional football. Among this elite group was Super Bowl XXII MVP, Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams. Williams went on to follow in the footsteps of Coach Robinson as the head coach of Grambling in 1998. Coach Williams was the seventh head coach in the history of the program.
The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.
Coach Eddie Robinson