Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Eddie Robinson 1919-2007

Imagine how satisfying it must have been to be Eddie Robinson on the first day of Grambling football practice before, oh, 1970. An amazing array of football talent is there before you, stronger, faster, and meaner than any school's players within 500 miles. Now, imagine the first meeting with your team. You note the above facts, then point out how Southern white males are afraid to fight you one on one. Then you say, "let's hit those dummies."

I imagine there were few slackers during Robinson's drills. The list of College and Pro Football Hall of Fame members who played for him at Grambling confirms my belief. Robinson never left the school, a tribute to his belief system. Maybe Robinson got the fundamental contradiction of his career - he exploited segregation to help end it.

Who was the first Grambling star to blow bast the racial barrier? Willie Wood? Tank Younger? Buck Buchanan? All coached by Robinson on the verge of racial integration at large Southern state institutions. All Hall of Famers.

To me, the most praiseworthy part of Robinson's career is how he stayed at Grambling despite its increasing sociological irrelevance. He didn't mind being demoted to Division I-AA, as long as Grambling's record went along with him. He was willing to be obsolete in the name of progress - as long as there was progress.

Tough to find a better obituary.


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