Dave Robinson’s Saturday went from anxious to deeply depressing to exhilarating, all within a matter of moments.
Hunkered down in his hotel room in New Orleans, the former Moorestown football standout and all-time great NFL linebacker watched as the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee announced the names for the 2013 class.
Hall of Fame classes are usually limited to four or five players, Robinson said, so when they got to number five and he hadn’t heard his name, he figured he’d been passed over again. (He was up for induction the first time around in 1989, but missed the cut.)
“I said, ‘Well that’s it. You’ve had it,’” he recalled.
And then he heard his name—second-to-last ahead of defensive tackle Warren Sapp—and, “All of a sudden, I went from the depths of depression to the heights of ecstasy. I broke into tears. I didn’t know what to do.”
Robinson’s son, Dave Jr., did, however. While Dave Sr., a Mount Laurel native, was on the phone with a Hall of Fame representative, his son excused himself to grab a bottle of champagne he’d stashed nearby, and father and son celebrated together.
“We went through the whole experience together, which made it all the more special,” the elder Robinson said. Robinson’s wife, Elaine, and his other two sons have already passed away. All three are buried in Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnaminson.
Robinson, a Moorestown High School graduate (‘59), certainly has the credentials for the Hall of Fame. An All-Pro linebacker, he played more than a decade in the NFL—most of it as a Packer—and won three world championships with Green Bay in 1965, ‘66 and ‘67. Robinson was also a four-sport athlete at Moorestown, and excelled at every one, according to Moorestown Historical Society trustee Lenny Wagner.
“It’s obviously important to him, but it’s historic for the town,” said Wagner of Robinson’s achievement. “You could definitely make a case that he’s become the most accomplished sports figure in Moorestown history.”
Robinson won’t be formally enshrined in the Hall of Fame until Aug. 3, at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, OH, alongside other NFL greats like Bill Parcells, Cris Carter and Curley Culp. The ceremony will be televised on the NFL Network and ESPN.
Fortunately for Robinson, the hard part’s over and he can stop living in suspense. Even though he tried to convince himself the Hall of Fame wasn’t a big deal, he said he struggled to sleep in the days leading up to the announcement. Saturday night though, he slept “like a log.”
Twenty-four hours later, he took the field to be recognized with the rest of the 2013 class at the start of Super Bowl XLVII.
Robinson’s name wouldn’t have come back up for induction for another 15 to 20 years, he said. “At my age, I don’t know that I have another 15 to 20 years. This was my last shot. This is really big. I’m very, very grateful.”
Robinson said he plans to appear at a book signing on Feb. 23 at the Costco on Centerton Road in Mount Laurel to sign copies of his book, Lombardi’s Left Side.
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