The tears shed for the legendary Eddie Robinson are not only because we lost one of college football’s greatest coaches but also at the thought that his memory might be forgotten.
Before the Bobby Bowdens and Joe Paternos, we had a legend of our own. Robinson, former head coach of Grambling State University, sent more than 200 college football players to the National Football League, four of whom became professional football hall of famers.
He began his coaching career in 1941 at the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, which later became known as Grambling State University.
Robinson led Grambling State – also known as the G-Men – to an astonishing 408-165-11 record in 55 seasons with the Tigers. Robinson’s tenure includes the addition of nine black-college championships to the Grambling trophy case. Robinson’s life lies deep in the roots of Grambling State’s football team, a program that many of today’s most famed coaches spent time studying and emulating before integration in the 1960s.
It was Robinson, who aside from winning championships, led hundreds of men to receive their degrees.
In a time where racial segregation shadowed the success of Robinson, he led his team to win 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference titles.
His impact as a coach was felt throughout America as Robinson passed the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1985 as the coach with the most wins. Soon after he made even bigger strides as the Bayou Classic between Grambling and Southern University in the Louisiana Superdome became a hit broadcast for NBC-TV in 1991.
Along with his wins, the former president of the American Football Coaches Association produced some of the finest athletes such as the first player to sign with the NFL from an HBCU, Paul “Tank” Younger, who played for the Los Angeles Rams.
Along with Younger, Hall of Famers Junious “Buck” Buchanan, Willie Brown, Willie Davis, Charlie Joiner and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams soon followed. However, aside from leading countless individuals to the NFL, Robinson was a man of stature. He once said it wasn’t just the team he cared about, it was the individual.
“A young man may not make the team, but he might go on to be one of the guys that might change the course of the world,” said the former G-Men coach.
His credentials stand above many coaches both black and white, but his hunger for change shines brighter.It isn’t just that we lost a great coach. We lost a leader. We can’t forget the legacy of one of our fallen heroes. Let us share something he refused to give up – a dream.