April 5, 2007


EDDIE ROBINSON: 1919-2007: He made civil rights part of plan (Chris Dufresne, April 5, 2007, LA Times)

"There is no question that Eddie Robinson was a figure that was larger than life for most African American young men of that era," said University of Washington Coach Tyrone Willingham, one of five black head coaches in Division IA during the 2006 college football season. "At that time, Grambling was The Program and Eddie Robinson was The Man.... He stood for all the right things."

At the peak of his power, Robinson proudly paraded his Tiger teams around the country on "barnstorming" tours, a Deep South version of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish football team.

The school hired a public relations man to orchestrate a national publicity campaign as Grambling scheduled games against other historically black schools in venues that included Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl and the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Robinson's effect on college football was profound. His Grambling teams won nine National Black College championships and 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference titles and had only eight losing seasons.

In 1949, Grambling star Paul "Tank" Younger joined the Los Angeles Rams, becoming the first player from a historically black college to sign with an NFL team.

Four former players -- Buck Buchanan, Willis Davis, Willie Brown and Charlie Joiner -- are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

At one point in the early 1970s, there were 43 former Grambling players in NFL training camps.

On Jan. 31, 1988, with Robinson seated in the stands at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium, former Grambling star quarterback Doug Williams led the Washington Redskins to a win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. Williams, the first African American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, threw four touchdown passes and was named the game's most valuable player.

"For the Grambling family, this is a very emotional time," Williams said Wednesday. "But I'm thinking about Eddie Robinson the man, not in today-time, but in the day and what he meant to me and to so many people."

Robinson was affectionately known as "Coach Rob" and liked to boast that his proudest accomplishments were "having one job and one wife."

He was a champion of equal rights who tried to effect change by working within established boundaries and avoiding confrontation. He believed the success of Grambling players, on and off the field, served to advance the cause of civil rights.

At the height of civil unrest in the 1960s, Robinson insisted that his players stand at attention during the playing of the national anthem.

"I don't believe anybody can out-American me," Robinson often said.

Robinson had the respect of this family (Lonnie White, April 5, 2007, LA Times)

Yankee Stadium may be known for baseball, but for my older brother Tim and me, it represented black college football at its best when we were growing up in New Jersey.

Nearly every year, my father, Elwood, made it a family event to attend the "classic" game between longtime rivals Grambling and Morgan State.

My father played football for Morgan State in the late 1940s and often talked with pride about his days playing against Grambling and Coach Eddie Robinson. He was proud of his career and always looked forward to hooking up with his former teammates the weekend of the game.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 5, 2007 8:09 AM

Former San Diego Charger Ernie "the Cat" Ladd was from Grambling. Ladd was also a pro-wrestler in the 1970's and 1980's.

Posted by: pchuck at April 5, 2007 12:29 PM