Friday, April 06, 2007

The quiet giant of the gridiron

Eddie Robinson was one of college football's last real heroes. He was a hugely successful coach -- the winningest in Division I history -- who won with class. He also persevered for decades despite the uphill battle he faced for so long at a traditionally black university in the segregated South.

Loyalty defined Robinson. Many coaches today seem to change jobs by the minute, but Robinson stayed at Grambling for his entire 57-year career, sending more than 200 players to the NFL in the process. Just as impressively, he also graduated 80 percent of his players in an era when the national norm was closer to half. He was a man who truly cared about his teams -- not just about how they could help him succeed on the field but also how he could help them succeed off the field.

Robinson's death Tuesday night ripped a giant hole in the heart of college football. But the sport -- and the country -- are better places for what he did in life.


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