Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rest in Peace, Coach Rob

Eddie Robinson has died and it is sad to realize how many young people won't understand the impact he had on their lives. The legendary Grambling football coach stayed in one place, Grambling Louisiana, all of his adult life. For more than fifty years, he had one job: head football coach at Grambling. Along the way he became the first college football coach to win more than 400 games. He sent more than 200 players to the National Football League. At the time he retired, he was the winningest college football coach in history.
Football was his platform, and he used it well. Coach Rob took his teams all over the world and set an example everywhere he went. He refused to allow his players to use racial discrimination as an excuse to fail. He taught them that hard work and a will to win, in football and in life, can take you far. He was a leader along the lines of Martin Luther King, and for decades many mothers yearned to have their sons come under his influence.
Coach Rob was lost to those who love him long before he died. Alzheimer's took him away. He is an icon and the world has lost a treasure today.
Personally, I can tell you that Coach Rob was the first national figure I met as a young sportcaster. I don't think he ever remembered my name but he always recognized me. He always was kind to me. I have a drawing of Coach Rob, personally autographed to me by name, framed and treasured. For many years, it was displayed prominently in my office. I know exactly where it is and I will retrieve it today. I'm not qualified to address the profound impact he had on individuals, but more importantly on culture. I do know that I am surprisingly emotional at the news of his passing. He truly was a great man.

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