News & Announcements

How Grambling's Eddie Robinson gave an All-American speech I'll never forget

Anyone who got to know the Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson during the 1970s realizes they are better for having met one of the most inspiring men I have ever known.  Most people are familiar with the late coach's success, both as one of the best recruiters in the world and as the most successful HBCU coach in the history of college football. He lured athletes like Doug Williams, Buck Buchanan, Charlie Joiner, Gary “Big Hands” Johnson, Willie Brown and James “Shack” Harris to his corner of the world. They left as better men for having spent time with Robinson. I could say the same for myself. While working at the Ruston Daily Leader for the late O.K. “Buddy” Davis in 1975, I was assigned to cover the Grambling State Tigers fresh out of Louisiana Tech.  One weekend, the assignment was to fly to Washington, D.C., with the Tigers, who were going to play Morgan State in the now defunct RFK Stadium. The Tigers already had earned a reputation as the best HBCU program in the country and were able to do things first class before a lot of colleges knew what first class was. Our hotel, of course, was top of the heap, and we were given time to explore the nation’s capital as an aside to the long trip. The arrival meal included the largest ribeye steak I’ve ever seen in my life, although Williams had little trouble downing his. Topping the sight of the Washington and Lincoln monuments was the 30 minutes or so I spent with coach Robinson in the lobby of the Marriott that night. Just the two of us talking about things going on the world in the mid-1970s. I was a young whipper-snapper reporter, but coach treated me like I was a Sports Illustrated veteran. I’ve never forgotten that. A couple of years later, I was the speaker chairman of the Ruston Sertoma club, charged with recruiting individuals to deliver a message at our luncheons at a Holiday Inn. We had a modest group of about 15 to 18 attendees, so most of the speakers were local businessmen or political leaders. One day, I had an epiphany about asking Coach Rob to be the guest at one of our luncheons, although I figured on receiving a polite turndown. I had long since moved from sports to advertising manager at the Leader, so I hadn’t covered his team in a while. To my surprise, Robinson happily accepted the offer to speak. Found out later he rarely turned down an offer to speak, even if it came without compensation. What transpired that April day at the Ruston Holiday Inn was the greatest All-American speech I have ever heard. Robinson talked about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  "I come from humble beginnings," said Robinson, the son of a Louisiana sharecropper. "But now I'm head coach at a great university and I have the opportunity to impact hundreds of young men. That could only happen in the greatest country on earth." His speech received a standing ovation and left me beaming for having secured him. Eddie Robinson will long be remembered in the sporting world for accumulating a 408-165-15 record as a coach with 17 SWAC titles and nine Black College championships. But I’ll remember him as is as a giant of a man who made me a better individual for having known him. Jimmy Watson covers Shreveport-Bossier area sports. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6.


Other News

Welcome ImageWelcome...

The Eddie G. Robinson Museum is a landmark that officially recognizes the outstanding contributions to the state of Louisiana, the nation, the world and the game of football made by Coach Eddie G. Robinson.  - more

Upcoming events

There are no upcoming events.