Eddie Robinson’s legacy lives on in current Tigers head coach Broderick Fobbs
Fobbs’ father also played and coached with ‘Coach Rob’
Grambling State’s legendary head football coach Eddie Robinson was a father figure to many of his players, including Grambling State’s current head coach, Broderick Fobbs, and his dad, Lee Fobbs, who is the former running backs coach for Grambling. They both said Robinson was a very good coach who helped anyone in need and cared about character off the field.
Lee Fobbs played for Robinson from 1968-72 and was an eighth-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills. He also was among his assistant coaches at one point.
“He was a really good recruiter,” Lee Fobbs said. “He knew how to get your attention, and he did a fabulous job on and off the field.”
Broderick Fobbs played for Robinson from 1992-96 and has been the head coach at Grambling since Dec. 13, 2013. Broderick Fobbs said Robinson was like a grandfather to him and like a dad to Lee Fobbs. Additionally, everything he learned from Lee Fobbs was passed down to him from Robinson, whom players affectionately called “Coach Rob.”
“We were extremely close,” Broderick Fobbs said. “He made a major impact in my life because my father played for him and my father didn’t have a dad. So everything that my dad learned about tying a tie and being professional, he learned from Coach Rob.”
Broderick Fobbs also said it was very difficult to play for Robinson, but what he learned from playing for him was that you had to be a good person, a good student and a good football player.
“The thing I learned quickly about playing for coach was you had to be attentive to detail and you had to know what you were doing, but you also had to be a good student,” Broderick Fobbs said. “He didn’t believe in playing football and that was it. I think that’s something I learned from the get-go.”
Broderick Fobbs said one thing that Robinson had an effect on was the way people spoke, dressed and acted when they were around him. And people wanted to do so because of who he was.
“You would see him in the cafeteria, you would see him in the auditorium, you would see him walking around the gym and you would see him walking around campus,” Broderick Fobbs said. “Coach was always a guy who walked around with a suit and tie on when he wasn’t coaching, and he always had a smile on his face when he met different students.”
Very few people know that Robinson started off as a boxer before he was a football coach. He would often communicate to his football team using metaphors that revolved around boxing.
“He would say stuff like getting up off the canvas when you’ve been knocked down, competing until the end, conserving your energy and using it wisely,” Broderick Fobbs said. “He was a huge boxing fan. He was an even better American too.”
Under Robinson, Broderick Fobbs was a two-time team captain for the Tigers, including in 1992 when Grambling won the black college national championship by defeating Florida A&M, 45-15, in the Heritage Bowl.
Robinson would have observed his 100th birthday last week. Robinson, the Tigers’ head football coach in 1941-42 and again from 1945 to 1997, completed his career with a 408-165-15 record, the third-winningest in NCAA Division I history.
He had 45 winning seasons, including 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships under his belt. More than 200 of his players went on to play pro football. He coached four Pro Football Hall of Famers and the legendary Doug Williams, who was the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Williams became Grambling’s head coach after Robinson’s retirement.
In honor of Robinson’s 100th birthday, the university had a commemoration for him in the T.H. Harris Auditorium on Feb. 13. Hundreds filled the auditorium, including Robinson’s immediate family, students and football players who played for him.
Robinson’s great-granddaughter, Chloe Robinson, who is a freshman at Grambling State, spoke.
“There are so many words that could describe the greatness my great-grandfather achieved while being on this earth,” said Robinson. “One of the main words that comes to my mind is powerful. Papa was powerful not only on the field but in life. His voice, when you heard him, spoke powerful. The way he carried himself as a father to not only his family but to the young boys he raised to become the men they are today, powerful.”