Onward: Eddie Robinson (1919-2007)

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After a long battle with Alzheimer’s, Eddie Robinson, one of the most influential coaches in football history, went home last night.

For African Americans, the former, long-time Grambling coach is the most significant figure in football history – and perhaps second only to Jackie Robinson as the most influential black sports figure ever. (Muhammad Ali is certainly there, too. By any measure, it’s heady company.)

He won 408 games during his coaching tenure, between 1941 (six years before Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier) and 1997. He had 45 winning seasons, won nine National Black College championships and 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference titles. “I’m no better than any other coach,” he said prior to his final season. “But I’ve heard the best coaches in America and learned from them for close to 60 years.”

The list of Grambling players who were drafted into the NFL is staggering, the most among any historically black college. Four former Tigers – Buck Buchanan, Willie Davis, Willie Brown and Charlie Joiner – are in pro football’s Hall of Fame.

No doubt the most celebrated among his pupils, Doug Williams, will someday join them.

Robinson believed in “the system,” even as it worked against him, denying him opportunities beyond Grambling. “The framers of this Constitution, now they did some things,” Robinson said. “If you aren’t lazy, they fixed it for you. You’ve got to understand the system. It’s just like in football, if you don’t understand the system, you haven’t got a chance.”

Amen. R.I.P., Coach

ESPN Tribute: Click here.

AUDIO:Remembering Eddie Robinson

Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson gestures as he leaves Eddie Robinson Stadium after coaching his last home game in Grambling, La., in this Nov. 15, 1997 file photo. .

Photos/AP

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8 thoughts on “Onward: Eddie Robinson (1919-2007)

  1. Juan says:

    So long Eddie. He sounded like a consistent, ethical man. Much respect to him.

    Man, what a sad day.

    Wish I had seen those great Grambling teams of yesteryear. I only got to see them when they weren’t getting the future HOFers.

    On a side note— Roy? Doug Williams for the HOF? Really? I don’t know…what is the basis?

  2. Juan says:

    Roy–

    No way Doug Williams gets in the HOF.

    Check out his numbers.

    http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/WillDo01.htm

    Doug is rightfully in the College Football HOF in South Bend (which I heard is a great place to visit-not South Bend, but rather College Football HOF)

  3. Michael says:

    Roy,

    Great commentary as usual. Coach Robinson’s legacy, influence, and contributions will certainly “stand the test of time.”

  4. Jessica says:

    R.I.P Cousin

    You’ll be missed. I love You Cuz’n Eddie

  5. Jessica says:

    Tell my grandmother hi for me.

  6. Steven says:

    There’s a nice account of Morgan State vs. Grambling (with James “Shack” Harris) at Yankee Stadium in 1968 in William C. Rhoden’s recent book, Forty Million . . .

  7. michael williams says:

    i would like to say Eddie Robinson job well done. 57 years of swac football and 88 years of being one of god children. WE ALL WILL MISS YOU EDDIE AND ONE DAY WE WILL GET A CHANCE TO SEE YOU COACH AGAIN FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL, AND FOOTBALL ALL DAY LONG EDDIE.IT IS NOT GOODBYE BUT SEE YOU LATER EDDIE. JACKSON STATE UNIV. MICHAEL WILLIAMS( 1993-1997)

  8. gmack says:

    Great Post what can I say only he was a great man in his days. But one thing for sure he reach out to help other’s.

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