Most happy 77th birthday wishes to one of my all-time favorite Packers, Dave Robinson, today. I had the pleasure of giving Dave some of my custom cards of him a few years back and he was very gracious in speaking with me. He was such a special player that I was delighted when he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. Here’s what I wrote about him in Green Bay Gold:
Penn State’s Dave Robinson was the 14th overall pick in the 1963 draft as an end but was shifted to linebacker in Green Bay. After a one-year apprenticeship, Dave moved into the starting lineup at left linebacker and stayed there for the next nine years. He was a four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl player who competed with San Francisco’s Dave Wilcox and Dallas’ Chuck Howley to be the best strongside linebacker in the game, although it was Robinson who was named to the 1960s All-Decade team.
Dave Hanner once told Cliff Christl, “I know some people think I’m crazy, but if you had to pick between Nitschke and Dave Robinson, I’d take Dave Robinson.” I’m with Hanner; Robinson was the best linebacker in Green Bay in the 1960s. The 6’3” 245-pound Robinson was rangy, fast and powerful. His fellow left side Hall of Famer Willie Davis told the Journal Sentinel, “I would say the greatest thing about him was how physical he was. I can tell you right now, there wasn’t a tight end that didn’t have great respect for Dave.”
From the strong side, he didn’t blitz much, ending up with 19.5 sacks in Green Bay (Webster and Turney), but his most famous play came on an unplanned blitz on the last defensive play of the 1966 NFL title game against Dallas when he forced Don Meredith to toss a pop fly interception in the end zone. Robinson likes to tell the story that he was marked down on that play because he did not follow his defensive assignment, but his improvisation shows boldness and intelligence in that he saw the Cowboys mistakenly lined up split end Bob Hayes at tight end, changing the situation considerably.
Robinson was tough at the point of attack, exceptionally quick and agile and able to ward off blockers, but his best features were his speed and depth in pass defense. My personal favorite Robinson play came at the end of the first half of a Packers-Colts showdown in Baltimore in the next-to-last game of 1965. The Packers were leading 14-13 when Colts backup quarterback Gary Cuozzo tried a swing pass from the Packers two-yard line. Robinson leaped, tipped the ball to himself and returned it 87 yards to the Colt 10. The Packers scored a quick touchdown to close the half up 21-13 rather than down 20-14. That crucial 14-point swing at the close of the half enabled them to go on to win easily 42-27.
Robinson went down with an Achilles injury in 1970, but returned in 1971 under new coach Dan Devine. Dave since has maintained that Devine was the worst coach for whom he ever played. He retired after the 1972 division championship season and told the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1988, “I played here for ten years, then Dan Devine ran me out of town.” Robinson also was unhappy with Devine removing him when the team shifted to the nickel defense, since pass defense was always a strength and source of pride for Dave. Although Robinson announced his retirement in the offseason, Devine traded him to Washington for a second round draft choice. Redskin coach George Allen persuaded Robinson to return in 1973. Just like Dan Currie, Dave replaced Jack Pardee for two years under George Allen and then retired.
First 2 and last custom cards are coloroized.