Hall-of-fame Packers LB Robinson's greatest moment came against Lombardi's orders
Alden Roche (87), Dave Robinson (89). | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Archives
CANTON, Ohio - One of Vince Lombardi's unsung heroes from the 1960's Green Bay Packers gets enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Dave Robinson's greatest moment, however, came directly against the direct orders of the ultimate disciplinarian coach.
It came when the Packers defense had to hold the Dallas Cowboys on 4th and goal with less than a minute left in a 1966 NFL Championship Game they were winning in the Cotton Bowl, 34-27.
The Cowboys were knocking on the Packers' goal line door after one of the highest-scoring title games in league history, when Robinson was given an assignment not to blitz.
"I decided that the thing to do was beat (Cowboys quarterback) Don Meredith, and lucky for me, he was slower than I thought," said Robinson about a play on his own two yard line.
"My job was, I thought, to make the tackle. I didn't worry about how the coach designed the play."
As Meredith rolled out with :28 left in the game, Robinson reached him, but didn't make the tackle.
But as he grabbed Meredith's shoulders, he altered the throw enough to direct it to safety Tom Brown.
Brown intercepted the pass to clinch a 34-27 win and a berth in Super Bowl I.
As legend goes, Lombardi confronted Robinson in the locker room after the game and uttered "You weren't supposed to blitz!"
The angry tone left, and they celebrated the Packers' second of an unsurpassed three consecutive NFL championships.
Robinson, a pass coverage expert, took the field for 10 years with the Green Bay Packers.
He was one of the first African-Americans to start at linebacker in the NFL. He was also one of the best outside linebackers of his era.
Robinson specialized in pass defense, and could cover any running back or tight end.
"When a fullback came out of the backfield, or Gale Sayers or Jim Brown, the responsibility came on my shoulders. I gladly accepted it," said Robinson.
It helped to have three Hall-of-Famers surrounding him on Vince Lombardi's defense, but he'll tell you that he helped those Hall-of-Famers out, too.
"Willie Davis, Herb Adderley and Ray Nitschke was (in the Hall of Fame) because I was there...and my career was stellar because I could depend on Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley and Willie Davis. We were a team."
A team with one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.
The Packers ball-hawkers on defense were so good, that when you count scores from pick-sixes and fumble recoveries, they actually had a greater point-per-game defensive impact than the great Steel Curtain defenses of the 70's.
It's partially due to Robinson, the unsung hero in between some of the greatest to ever play their position (Adderley, Davis, Nitschke), who will finally get his due in Canton.