Packers' Robinson Receives Long Overdue Call to Canton

Green Bay Packers News – The pride and joy in their voices was unmistakable.
That aching, gaping hole on the left side of Packers head coach Vince Lombardi’s Hall of Fame defense finally had been filled. Bring on the Chicago Bears with Ditka and Sayers, and wish them luck because Willie Davis and Herb Adderley had their tough, talented and savvy sidekick back where he belonged.
Last week, Dave Robinson was chosen to join Davis and Adderley in the living, breathing museum also known as the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Adderley was inducted into pro football’s shrine in 1980. Davis went in the following year.
Meantime, Robinson was forced to be patient. After almost four decades of waiting, watching and wondering, Robinson’s selection was announced during the Super Bowl XLII weekend festivities.
Robinson was thrilled, of course.
“I thought that if it didn’t happen this year, it wasn’t going to happen,” Robinson said. “When you wait so long for something it makes it all the sweeter.”
In addition to Robinson and fellow seniors inductee Curley Culp, the 2013 Hall of Fame class includes receiver Cris Carter, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden, and head coach Bill Parcells.
Robinson said he figured four or five men would be inducted. So when Parcells’ name was uttered as the fifth inductee for 2013, Robinson’s heart sank.
Then, he heard his name called, and he knew he would be immortalized.
The sleepless nights were a thing of the past. No need to worry. It was time to savor the long-anticipated moment.
“Now, my grandkids and my grandkids’ kids can go to Canton and see what their grandpa accomplished,” Robinson said. “It’s the final touch on my legacy. I started playing football when I was 14 years old. I can’t go any higher than this.”
Davis and Adderley were ecstatic. Their reaction was what you would expect from the best of teammates, and without a doubt, Robinson was precisely that.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound wrecking ball from Penn State dominated at left outside linebacker, just like Davis (at left defensive end) and Adderley (at left cornerback) had throughout the 1960s. The talented trio made it difficult if not impossible for opposing offenses (all of whom were right-hand oriented) to move the football.
Davis, Adderley and Robinson came to be known as “Lombardi’s Left Side,” and Adderley and Robinson even penned a book (Ascend Books) by that title last year.
Robinson, the Packers’ first-round pick in 1963, roamed the defense’s left side for a decade in Green Bay. He used his God-given talent – which included massive, powerful hands – to go helmet-to-helmet with the John Mackeys and Jerry Smiths of the NFL. But even the best of NFL tight ends could figure on a bad day if the Packers’ #89 was lining up across from them.
Davis and Adderley both made it a point to share their feelings through the Packers’ website.
“He is very deserving and should have been in a long time ago,” Davis said. “It is a great moment for me to have Dave chosen. It is a fulfillment of something almost as important as if it was for me personally. I think Dave was so overdue.”
Adderley echoed Davis’ sentiments.
“I have never really felt the full satisfaction for me being in the Hall of Fame without Dave being in there, and I would have felt the same way if Willie Davis wasn’t in there,” Adderley said. “With Dave making it, it solidifies my feelings about the three of us and how we played together, shutting down the run and the pass. Whenever I talk to Willie or Dave, it always comes up, how we shut down the left side of the field.”
Robinson, 71, was among the great linebackers of his era. He played 12 seasons, including a decade in Green Bay, as well as the 1973-74 seasons in Washington. He was selected All-NFL three straight seasons (1967-69) and intercepted 27 passes (21 in Green Bay) during his Hall of Fame career.
Robinson is the 22nd member of the Packers to enter the Hall. He also is the 12th Lombardi-era Packer (including Lombardi) to be inducted.
It is interesting that Robinson’s long-awaited entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame coincides with the Hall’s 50th anniversary.
Players like Robinson only come along every half-century.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio ( Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.