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Monday, April 16, 2007

The Interview


One last word on Grambling Coach Eddie Robinson, taken from a May 1977 interview with him and the legendary Grambling University President Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones.

An interview that Robinson helped me get. You see, Jones was retiring after 51 years at the school he also served as baseball coach.

He was glum because we also wanted to discuss an investigation at the school and he didn’t want to talk about it.

Robinson knew what to do.

He reminisced with Jones.

They discussed Grambling players and at least one that Robinson let get away.

And plays.

Some quotes by Robinson from the written story:

 "I seldom lose too many. I thought we had gotten him, but he never made it here. We let him get away to Illinois." On Bobby Mitchell of Little Rock, Ark., who was also all-Big Ten and All-Prol and a star for the Cleveland Browns and Washington Red Skins.

 "They are all embarrassing when you get whipped." On the most embarrassing moment in his career. At that time, he had won 800 games and lost 200.

 "I tried to prevent him from being a lineman." On football great Paul "Tank" Younger, the first player from a small black college to be drafted into the pro ranks.

 "That was one of the finest experiences I’ve had." On why he cried on board the plane going home from the Rose Bowl the first time. (He remembered listening to Rose Bowl games as a child at the grocery store because his family couldn’t afford a radio.)

 "I do everything around the house that is done when they can catch me!" On doing chores at home.

And, they discussed the era of segregation when Robinson carried sandwiches for the players to eat because they couldn’t dine in white restaurants. And where it was difficult to even find establishments that would allow blacks to use restrooms as they traveled via bus across the South.

At times, Robinson would get up, walk around the room and pantomime a pass, almost interrupting himself with laughter and slapping his knee for a finish.

It was an interview to remember.

And, may I sum up Robinson in a word? Gracious.

Do you have any non-sports Eddie Robinson stories to share. I’d love to hear them.


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