Dave Robinson had to wait a long time to get here.
He becomes the 12th member of Vince Lombardi's crew to enter the Hall, and he will perhaps be the last. An underrated member of that 1960s winning machine, Robinson is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Dave Robinson was an outstanding collegiate player, earning all sorts of accolades while playing both sides of the football with the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Robinson played defensive end and offensive tackle for the Nittany Lions, where he became an All-American and College Defensive Lineman and Player of the Year in 1962. It's no wonder he was such a hot commodity coming out of college.
When Dave Robinson entered his professional career, he was a popular guy.
The Packers drafted him with their first-round pick, but they weren't alone. The AFL's San Diego Chargers also laid claim to Robinson, as did the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.
Ultimately Robinson would choose the Packers over the Bills, to which the Chargers traded his rights, because his fiancée thought Buffalo was too cold. The irony wasn't lost on the newly minted Hall of Famer (via cantonrep.com).
I called my fiancée from a Gator Bowl practice and said, 'Baby, we're going to sunny San Diego.' They had a package of $38,000 but ran out of money, and we're going to trade me to Buffalo because they had money. She had been to Buffalo, and knew how cold it was. She had never been to Green Bay...She didn't come to Green Bay until my second year.
So much better for the Packers, who gained a key cog to a fantastic defense.
Of course what career wouldn't be highlighted by a first-ever start in the NFL?
The statistics for that game are hard to come by—a box score could not be located even at Pro-Football-Reference.com—but just thinking about what it would be like to step onto the field with that Packers team under Vince Lombardi is goosebump-inducing.
It must have been glorious.
The Packers were a dominant team in the 1960s, and their defense was a big reason why.
They won their first championship in 1965, the beginning of a threepeat. The Packers would go on to win the first two Super Bowls in NFL history.
Robinson played a key role in getting the Packers to that first Super Bowl. They led the Cowboys 34-27 in the waning seconds of the game, but Dallas was threatening to score and tie the game.
Robinson pressured quarterback Don Meredith into throwing an interception that sealed the victory for Green Bay, which went on to throttle the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I.
Robinson was moved to left outside linebacker, where he would play between defensive end Willie Davis and cornerback Herb Adderley. Robinson discussed how he benefited from playing between two fellow Hall of Famers:
Willie and Herb were students of the game...They understood their positions and mine. They didn’t just tell me, ‘You go here.’ They explained why. That’s when I became a really good player.
The 6'2", 245-pound outside linebacker ran like a gazelle and became a master at covering tight ends. And Robinson's exploits did not go unnoticed by the rest of the NFL.
His fantastic play earned him three Pro Bowl appearances, and he was named to the prestigious first-team All-Pro team in 1967 and '68.
Despite being less heralded than many of his teammates, Robinson's contribution to those championship teams was more than enough to earn him a spot on All-Decade Team for the 1960s.
It was not, however, enough to get him inducted into the Hall of Fame as a modern-era player. He would have to wait over two decades to get in as a senior candidate.
After an illustrious career, Robinson has been vocal in retirement about player safety issues:
I would talk to Commissioner Goodell and explain to him that the heads-up thing they're doing is not right...When two guys are going at each other, making a tackle heads up, their helmets are not more than six or eight inches apart. That's much too close.
Robinson has remained a loyal Packer in retirement, despite finishing his career with another team.
Twenty-four years after missing the cut to make the Hall of Fame as a modern-era player, Robinson finally got in as a senior member alongside Curley Culp.
The effusive Robinson showed no resentment for having to wait so long to get this richly deserved honor (via the Associated Press):
I've been involved with the board of directors since 1980...so I've been around the Hall of Fame a lot. I've never been on this side before...It's a big thrill.
Fifty years since he burst onto the NFL scene in 1963, Robinson is finally getting his due.
The enshrinement happens this weekend, when Robinson will make his entry into the Hall alongside other titans of the game.
Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp, Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden and Curley Culp will step onto the stage this weekend alongside Robinson—sure to be a life highlight for the former linebacker.
It might be 50 years after his first game and 24 years since he was first shunned, but it is never too late to be honored with this accomplishment.