Feb. 9, 2010
GRAMBLING, La. – University of Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly will deliver the keynote address at the grand opening ceremony of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum Saturday, Feb. 13, in Grambling, La.
The Eddie G. Robinson Museum will officially open on what would be the 91st birthday of the legendary Grambling State University head coach. Robinson remains the winningest head coach in NCAA Division I football history, collecting 408 victories during his 57 years at Grambling.
Kelly will serve as the keynote speaker for the grand opening ceremony Saturday and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will address the celebration banquet Friday, Feb. 12.
Robinson transcended generations and is widely regarded as a great American hero for his ability to positively affect the lives of the thousands of young men he coached while instilling the values of loyalty, generosity, humility, courage, commitment, and leadership. He always endeavored to give a positive piece of himself to everyone with whom he came in contact. He had a remarkably profound impact not only on Grambling, but also on the state of Louisiana, the game of football, and the United States.
“Everybody knows about the incredible number of games that Coach Robinson won, but it’s how he did it that always impressed me,” Kelly said. “The class he consistently displayed and his integrity are only a couple items I was always impressed with.
“As the head coach at Notre Dame, I was only too excited to be invited to be part of an event that we believe recognizes one of the finest men in our coaching professions’ history. We like to think the values he instilled in his players are cornerstones of our program as well.”
Notre Dame’s first-year head coach ranks as the sixth-winningest active coach in the NCAA football bowl subdivision in terms of winning percentage and only three coaches have won more games over the past three seasons than Kelly’s 33 victories. He helped Cincinnati earn consecutive BIG EAST titles in 2008 and 2009 and led Grand Valley State to NCAA Division II national championships in 2002 and 2003.
“We are extremely honored to have Coach Kelly join us in opening the Eddie G. Robinson Museum,” said John Belton, Chairman of the Louisiana governor-appointed Eddie G. Robinson Museum Commission. “Coach Kelly is someone of whom Coach Robinson would have been extremely proud, knowing the hard work, dedication, and commitment it takes to move up the coaching ranks from a small Division II school to his dream job at Notre Dame.”
Robinson’s legend continued to grow as he helped more and more athletes, many of whom came from poverty-stricken homes, establish the discipline they needed to be successful in football and in life. At the same time, he graduated 80% of his more than 4,000 players and provided the father-figure that many lacked.
Married for 66 years to his wife Doris, Robinson and his family shared a familial bond with all of the young men he led. Robinson put more than 200 athletes in the NFL and was a quiet yet powerful leader in helping to integrate the league.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson possessed the heart to care, the will to win, and the character to do so with integrity. The museum will both honor Coach Robinson’s legend and continue his great legacy.
Many of those who played under Coach Robinson will return to Grambling for the weekend of celebration. Among the more than 4,000 players he coached were four members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame – Buck Buchannan, Willie Davis, Willie Brown, and Charlie Joiner – along with Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams.
Robinson also helped to open the door for black athletes in NFL executive offices, as former Grambling fullback/linebacker Paul “Tank” Younger became the first African American to become an NFL front office executive when he joined the St. Louis Rams’ front office staff. Former quarterback James “Shack” Harris would also hold executive positions with the NFL, including his current role as Senior Personnel Executive with the Detroit Lions.
The 8,000 square-foot Eddie G. Robinson Museum will be housed in a newly renovated and re-constructed facility on the Grambling campus that was once the women’s gymnasium. Robinson coached in the building during his early years at Grambling when he also coached the women’s basketball team, among other sports.