A legend in many of the world’s most prestigious fraternities has passed. Eddie Gay Robinson, coach of the Grambling Tigers, died last night shortly before midnight. I heard Doug Williams and William C. Rhoden on ESPN2 this morning. Their recollections offered powerful and sensitive snapshots into the life of a singularly accomplished man. Rhoden said something that had eluded me in all my years of following collegiate and professional football: that only Notre Dame had more players in the NFL over Robinson’s tenure than Grambling. I need to check that because I want to make sure I heard it correctly. Coach Robinson’s wiki says more than 200 players from Grambling played in the NFL.
When you consider that much of Eddie Robinson’s tenure was during the national reich of Jim Crow segregation, placing that number of players in the NFL was a tremendous accomplishment. Consider the disparities in resources between Grambling and Notre Dame (recruiting budgets, staff, facilities, etc.). Some of those players are among the greatest players of all time….
80% of Coach Robinson’s players graduated.
Bill Rhoden may have said it most succinctly. Today is the end of an era. Rest in peace Coach.
Feel free to send your anecdotes and remembrances. It’s a time to celebrate a great life lived – and a tremendous legacy that continues to shape the hearts and minds of many of us.