Dave Robinson Enshrinement speech

Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium
August 3, 2013

Dave Robinson:
Good evening, Canton, Ohio.  How you doing?  (Cheers and applause.) I love this place.  Before I get started, I have just a little housekeeping to do.  I'd like, first of all before I forget, I want to say that today I have two fellas that are good friends of mine: Buddy and Billy Lamb. It's their birthday, and I want to say happy birthday.  I also have a niece, Henrietta Hill. Today is also her birthday.  I want to say happy birthday.  And my granddaughter, dig this, my granddaughter is 18 today.  Michelle, happy birthday.
You know, I say that because I'd be greatly amiss if I forgot their birthdays.  This is a great day in their life, but for me this is the biggest day ever.  This is the biggest day of the 21st century for the Robinson family, and I want to thank all of you for it. (Cheers)
I'd like to thank the Hall of Fame, first of all, for being here for the last 50 years and doing the job of making this the premier sports venue in the country.  I'd like to thank the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame for letting me serve on the board for 27 years.  It's a great board.  I'd most of all like to thank the Selectors, in particular, the Senior Committee who looked and said, "Wait a minute. We missed Dave Robinson.  Let's put him in there."  Fellas, I really thank you.  I have friends, family and fans and everybody else that live just about 25 miles from here.  But it took me 38 years to get here, and I tell you, I enjoyed every step of the way.
I started off as a country boy in South Jersey, as a farmer.  I was raised on a farm in South Jersey, and I was one of nine children to Mary and Leslie Robinson, who both are passed away.  Those nine children, seven are gone. The only ones left are myself and my sister, Henrietta Robinson, sitting out there.  She's been a big supporter for me.  She stayed with me.  I can still remember, Henrietta bought me that very first store-bought suit.  Everything else before that were hand-me-downs, and she did it for me, so I owe her a lot.  I know my other seven siblings, my mother and father, all looking down on me now saying, "Way to go, Dave."  I hope. (Cheers)
I went to school in a little town called Moorestown, New Jersey.  A great town.  I had an excellent coach in coach George Masters and his coaching staff, one of the finest coaching staffs I've ever been around.  Unfortunately for them or unfortunately for me, they've all past.  The only one left is coach Dick Loring, and he's here somewhere.  I want to say thank you, Coach, for all the things you've done and continue to do for me.
You know, like I said, all these coaches looking down on me.  Coach Masters, the finest high school coach I've ever seen, and I'm thankful for that.
They did one big thing: They directed me toward Penn State, the Pennsylvania State University, one of the biggest things in my life.  There I met the legendary Joe Paterno and Rip Engle, and they taught me a lot about football.  They took a diamond in the rough and made me a football player. And for them, I thank them.
However, both Rip and Joe, J.T. White and Jim O'Hare, all those coaches and the whole staff have passed on.  But I hope they're looking down on me now.  I want to say to them, thank you very much. (Applause)
While at Penn State, my romance blossomed with a young lady I met in high school named Elaine Burns.  She later on became my wife.  We dated for about one and a half years in high school and four years in college and we've been married for 44 years.  As David mentioned, she was a great woman, and I miss her a lot. (Applause)
While at Penn State, I had some great teammates and whatnot.  We had kickers, Sam Stellatella, just a great guy.  You know, I've been blessed with great football players all my life to be around.  Football is a team sport, and I've had great teams behind me.  The aforementioned Moorestown High School team was the only undefeated team in 1957, the first one in the school history.  I've got about 10 of those members here today, too.  We are like brothers.  They're here to support me, and I thank them very much.
I tell you, football is a game that's meant to be played, as my former coach said, a Spartan game played by Spartan-like individuals in a Spartan-like manner.  It's a game of hitting and getting hit.  You have to like to hit, and you have to like to get hit, because if you don't, you won't last long in this league.
I tell people, "When you play football, you have to like the taste of blood," and you have to remember that 50 percent of the time, it's your blood, so... (Laughter)  I tell you, I came to Green Bay in 1963.  What's so unusual about that, it was 50 years ago, same year as the Hall of Fame.  It's their anniversary.  It's my 50th anniversary of my launch into the National Football League.  I feel the NFL is the greatest sports entity in the world.  And nothing tops the NFL,  I tell you.
I played with all of those coaches that I had at Green Bay.  They were all going on to Vince Lombardi, head coach, Phil Bengtson, my defensive coordinator, and defensive line coach, Norb Hecker, and Red Cochran, they've all passed.  But I think, I hope, they're looking down on me.  I thank them very, very much for that.
I also was privileged to play for another great coach in George Allen when I went to the Washington Redskins.  If everybody knew George, he was one of the greatest.  George is here in the Hall of Fame also, as is Vince Lombardi and well deserved. The one thing I say about George that's really bad is George has passed away also, and I hope he's looking down on me.
I don't know if you caught it, but there's been a lot of coaches in my life, and a lot of them have left here, so I don't think anybody else wants to coach Dave Robinson. (Laughter) They don't last long.  There's a lot of people looking down up there, my family and friends.  And some of my friends may be looking up at me, but I just hope they're all proud of me.  That's all. (Cheers and applause)
Unlike a lot of people, I never dreamed in high school of coming to the Hall of Fame.  It never crossed my mind.  When I went through college and was trying to make blocks -- when I had to go up against my sophomore year, when I was just a young sophomore learning things, I had to go up against Mike Ditka. Scared to death, by the way. I never dreamed that someday I'd be in the Hall of Fame, and some people say, didn't you even have dreams about it?
I said, no.  There was no Hall of Fame.  The Hall of Fame wasn't created until my rookie year.  (Laughing).  And I tell you, Vince Lombardi thought the Hall of Fame was the greatest thing that ever happened to football.  And you know what, as his disciple, he's right. It was.
I played on the left side of Lombardi's line, and we had 12 guys counting Jim Ringo, he was on the championship teams not the three in a row, but he was there for the first couple.  Beside me was Willie Davis and Herb Adderley, and next to them was Ray Nitschke, and behind me sometimes was Willie Wood.  It was possible that you could line up in a formation and there would be five -- five -- five Hall of Famers all on the left side all at one time.  The strongest left side in the history of the National Football League, arguably.  Just to keep it even, we've got four Hall of Famers on the offense, but I won't go into all of that.
The whole back field and Forrest Gregg and Jim Ringo; that's five.  I tell you, the Green Bay Packer organization is one of the greatest in the world.  Everybody in the Green Bay Packer organization is dedicated to football.  They want nothing but the best football.  They wanted nothing but the best from their ballplayers, and they wanted to give the fans the best football possible.  From kickers like Jan Stenerud to Chris Jacke, people like Curly Lambeau who started with the Green Bay Packers, and Mark Murphy who now runs the Green Bay Packers.  He has a great Packers organization. To me, it's one of the finest football organizations in the country, and I'd like to say to all of them people in Packer Land: Thank you for putting me where I am.  Without them I couldn't be here.
I just want to touch on something my son said about his mother being a Hall of Famer.  She was.  You have to understand, we were married in 1963.  In 1964, I told her, "Baby, I wouldn't be coming to Green Bay.  There are no black wives in Green Bay at all." And she said, "Wherever my husband goes, I'm going, too."  So we packed up.  Dave's twin brother, and Elaine and I went across country from New Jersey to Green Bay.  And I dropped her in Green Bay in a little house we rented, and I went to training camp.  She was just 22 years old.  Didn't have any siblings or anybody to help take care of her children.  She had twins, 10 months old.  Didn't know where the drug store was, the grocery store, the laundromat or even the diaper service.  I was only allowed to come home between 9:30 and 10. But even with that, she held the family together.  She reared those children well, and she even put up with my craziness when I would come home.
So I tell you, if anybody was going to be a Hall of Famer, I think she was it.  She earned it the hard way. (Applause) I remember she said one time, she talked to Mrs. Lombardi and said, "My only problem here is that Dave gets hollered at out on the field and he comes home and hollers at us.  And Mr. Lombardi said, "You tell Dave, Vince only hollers at people with potential.  When he stops hollering, you're on our way out of here." So starting the next day he hollered. I said, "He loves me! (Laughing). He really likes me a lot."
But I hung in there, and it's great.  I tell you, while I'm talking I'm going to say one thing else.  She often said she would not have made it those first couple of years being alone in Green Bay.  There were rumors there was one black lady that lived in town, one in the whole city.  I never met her.  But the rumor was she was there.  Yeah, I know.  You're thinking what I thought.  She's probably passing.
Well, anyway what happened, Elijah Pitts' wife, Ruth, came to town with her son, Ronny, who is on TV now. I won't mention the network; it's not this one, or this one, anyway, the two of them came in, and so Elaine and Ruth, they were the pillars that we stuck to. After that, more and more black wives came to Green Bay.  Ever go through Green Bay now, and it's a very, very integrated city.  And it never was a city of bias, just a city with a lack of color, that's all. (Applause)
I told myself I wasn't going to speak too long, and I'm going to go real quick, I'd like to say first of all that the fans of Baltimore, you guys may be great, but you've got to come to Lambeau Field to see the real thrill of the real fans.  Lambeau's the place.  (Cheers.) A lot of guys don't want to believe me.  But I tell you what, our fans are as enthusiastic as any other fans in the country.  Our fans own the team.  Now top that. (Laughing).
I tell you what, I am affiliated with almost all the 32 owners, and the best owner in the league is the Green Bay Packers, the fans of Green Bay, and I love those guys.  Well, I'm here now, and I they can't kick me out. I finally made it and I'm here forever.  The one thing I've always said, and you may have heard me quote this, the thing about the Hall of Fame is the closest thing a football player can get to immortality.  You are forever immortalized in the bust in that place. And look at that bust.  It touches me because I know that eons from now, some little Robinson, some great, great, great, great of mine will look up and say, I wonder if that Robinson is related to us.  And the answer is going to be yes, sir, he is.  I'll be looking down on him.  You're immortalized there in the Hall of Fame.
For this, I'd like to thank everybody here and in the Hall of Fame.  Thank you very much.

Presenter Video: Dave Robinson presents his father, Dave
Dave Robinson presents his father