CANTON, Ohio—In his final remarks of this Hall of Fame weekend, new inductee Dave Robinson sent a strong message to a league intent on changing its culture.
“We played football. We didn’t play mamby pamby. We made the NFL successful. We played the game people wanted to see. Now they’re reaping the benefits. I hope they understand that,” Robinson told an audience of about 3,000 attending Sunday’s “Enshrinees GameDay Roundtable.”
The event is intended to be a relaxed opportunity for the men who had been inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame on Saturday to address a series of questions, most of which are meant to provide a lighthearted review of the weekend. Sunday’s roundtable discussion featured tearful comments by Cris Carter, and an appeal by Robinson for one of his former Packers teammates.
“At the top of my list is Jerry Kramer,” Robinson said in answer to a question that asked each new inductee who they would support for election to the Hall of Fame. “I’d love to see him in the Hall of Fame.”
Robinson is the 12th member of the 1960s Packers, including its coach, Vince Lombardi, to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Robinson was elected on a senior committee ballot, which is what it would take for Kramer to be elected.
Sunday’s roundtable capped a weekend that began with Friday’s “Gold Jacket Dinner,” at which time this year’s seven inductees received their Hall of Fame gold jackets. At Fawcett Stadium on Saturday night, their busts were unveiled during enshrinement ceremonies.
Robinson’s son, Dave, served as his father’s presenter. The two lifted the cover from the bust that joins 279 others in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m not an emotional guy, but I had to fight back the tears. That bust will be here forever,” Robinson said.
It was a particularly emotional moment for Robinson that his son asked to be his father’s presenter. Since the end of his playing career, Robinson has lost his wife and two of his three sons.
“My son told me he’d like to represent his mother and his brothers, and I almost broke down in tears, like Cris Carter,” Robinson said.
Carter had just finished making comments that no doubt will be widely circulated.
“When Buddy Ryan cut me, my wife was pregnant. I told her I would quit using cocaine and I’d stop drinking, for him,” Carter said as he choked back tears, “so he would have a chance.”
Of the other five new inductees, Warren Sapp was most engaging, if not giddy.
“I’ve cried more in the last six months than I have in my life,” Sapp said.
Bill Parcells spoke entertainingly, offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden were true to the position they played, which is to say overshadowed, and Curley Culp spoke in measured and distinguished tones.
Robinson clearly enjoyed festivities. He was comfortable and direct in everything he said.
“We were more than teammates. We were brothers,” Robinson said of the men with whom he played while with the Packers for 10 seasons.
If his bust could talk, what would it say to the other busts late at night?
“The last time I saw Coach Lombardi was on his deathbed, and it was awful. I’d just like to hug him and tell him what he did for me,” Robinson said.