Previously, I ran an entry quoting from Paul Zimmerman’s essential A Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football on Herb Adderley. Dr. Z. looked to another Packer Hall of Fame defender from that period, Dave Robinson, for expert testimony on playing linebacker.
When you’re a super athlete like Dave Robinson, the Packers’ great left linebacker, the route is generally more direct. His game is “keys,” the little tips a player might give when he pulls out of the line or starts his block, the little clues to the play that will follow.
“I love hitting blockers as well as ballcarriers,” he says, “but you have to be selective in who you are hitting, because all the fakes are aimed at linebackers. And that’s where your keys come in.
“You can take one key and go with it all season, but you’re going to be just average, or less. If you have two keys to work from, you’ll be better. Three keys, you might be outstanding. If the tight end Is on my side, for instance, I have to check the tight end, the near tackle, the near guard, the far guard, the near back and the far back. But I’ve got less than a second to do it, so I just do the best I can.
“You’ve got to be careful of the phony key, too. A man who blows a play might give you a phony key, because he isn’t going where he should. That’s why it’s important to have more than one key. They can throw one wrong key at you, one fake, but it’s very hard to coordinate two. How do you get a key? One way is to hit the man when he’s not trying to block you. The tight end wants to block me on a running play, so he’s resigned to getting hit. But if I bust him when he doesn’t have to hit me, he’s going to learn not to like it.
“And he might do something about it – set up a little bit off the line, lean, something like that –to avoid being hit. When he does that, I’ve got a key. I can tell when he’s supposed to block me and when he wants to do something else. Backs can give me a key, too, the way they tilt.
“Oh I might be off one blocking hole, but I’ve got the general area pinpointed. Once I do, I’m free to play football. That’s what the whole idea is, to get me into the area of play so I can play football.”
Custom cards for 1963 topps, 1965 Philadelphia, 1968 Topps and 1973 Topps.