011: Jerry Robinson – Former Raiders and Eagles Player

August 18, 2017

FYS 011 | Jerry Robinson

We’ve got a great guest on. His name is Jerry Robinson. Jerry and I go way back. We’re teammates with the Raiders back in the day. Jerry is a guy that went to UCLA. He was a three-time All-American, ended up as the number one draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles. He played six years there and then was traded to the Raiders, played another seven. That’s where he and I got together and became friends and has stayed connected ever since. It’s a great interview of Jerry and I talking about life. He’s so grateful for the things that matter the most. Like all of us, it’s not all about something super shiny and how great he was. He had to overcome some adversity, which he did. He talks about his brother being shot and killed and what that was like on him. It’s a great podcast. Jerry is a wonderful guy and a deep soul and just really loved having him on.

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Jerry Robinson – Former Raiders and Eagles Player

I’m really fired up to have our guest on, Jerry Robinson and the reason why that is because Jerry is an old-time buddy of mine. We used to play together at the Raiders. Between all that, Jerry is just a phenomenal guy and he had an amazing career. I had my fifteen minutes of fame in the NFL, but Jerry certainly was legit between his college career and his NFL career. Jerry, how are you doing?

I’m doing awesome. When my opened eyes this morning, I immediately had an attitude of gratitude. That’s the best way for me to start my day. I’m doing great. I’m feeling good.

I knew I was going to love this podcast talking with you because every single time that you and I get together, it’s just nothing but great chemistry and lot of laughs. To wake up with that kind of attitude everyday and feel blessed is just the way I like to do it. I call it FOF which is Feet On Floor. First thing I do, I get up bright and early, feet on floor, gets me going. I run out the door and do some athletic.

I’ve learned that over the years I’ve been very blessed and fortunate athletically and my family is healthy and things like that. Although my body at this point in my life is a little beat up from the thirteen years in NFL and the four years in college, every now and then you start to feel sorry for yourself but it’s amazing what happens to me every time I start to feel that way. I could either be in my car or I could be walking somewhere and God will put somebody in front of my face. For instance in a wheelchair going across the crosswalk and I’m like, “I have a lot to be thankful for.” That’s the way I look at life. I like the way you look at it, the FOF. That’s cool too. Whatever it is it’s going to be positive. There’s enough going on in this world that makes you unhappy and sad. There’s a lot of negative stuff going on. I’m just trying to start my day just like you on a positive note.

[Tweet “There’s enough going on in this world that makes you unhappy and sad. “]

I’ve been saying for years now because I’ve gone through my challenges. The name of this podcast is called Finding Your Summit. It’s really about overcoming adversity and finding that success. We all have different variations of what that looks like. What I really try to do now is go towards the light and things that make me happy is what I gravitate towards. Things like us blowing up North Korea and things like that, that does not make me happy so I don’t go towards that. Everybody can do their own thing. Like you, I’m in that point of my life where I want to be around people that bring me joy or doing things that I love to do. That’s why I do my mountain climbing thing. It just puts you in such a better framework of getting up, seeing life and seeing how that goes.

That’s why I missed you so much on this last Raider reunion, the Alumni Weekend. You’ve been to two of them and it’s something about getting around your former teammates and your friends that is the one of the most exciting three days of my life. When I get to see you and Beuerlein and Steve Wright and Willie Brown and all the other guys from that Raider experience, from that Raider family, it’s a great feeling. I missed you not being there this year and hopefully, you’ll be back next year. I just want you to know you were definitely missed especially by this brother right here.

Last year, I had such a great time. I look back on that year of 2016 and it’s really was a highlight for me to be included in that group and to get up there. I wasn’t sure about it when I entered the hotel. There was just all this camaraderie and all these guys after all these years. It didn’t matter if you played two years or fifteen years or whatever. Cliff Branch and Fred Biletnikoff and Mark Davis sitting in there, you were there. There are all these guys. There’s all this love flowing around. We talk about going to the light. I went back through after all these years, the big gap, and it was just like time had not gone by at all. It was like we were still on training camp. It was so much fun. I had my flight booked ready to go and some things came up, family things I had to get back to. Next year, 100% I will be there.

I’m looking forward to it because it’s always great to see you. There’s something about that family thing. People ask, I’m sure they ask you often too just like they ask me, “What is it that you miss about the game of football, if anything?” My answer is always, “I miss my teammates. I miss that.” Even though training camp back in our day was road training camp, now they’re in pajamas out there. If you don’t look good with a t-shirt and pair of shorts on, you don’t need to be there. Back in the day, I even look forward to that. That whole thing of preparing yourself to get ready as a team, as a brother to play against somebody else, I miss that. I miss that camaraderie. It’s just exciting to get back there at the Alumni Weekend. I grew up here in Santa Rosa, California which was the Raiders training camp back in the ‘60s and the ‘70s. I’ve been a Raiders fan since a little kid. At the Alumni Weekend, I get a big kick out of the older guys. I call them the OG, the Original Raiders. I was hanging out with Daryle Lamonica, Fred Biletnikoff, Ted Hendricks. It’s just that whole group that I used to watch as a kid. I even watch Cliff Branch because Cliff Branch is old dude. That’s what I miss about that game, is being around my teammates.

We all go through the same thing. Although we might play different positions, we all go through training camp. We all go through pre-game. We all go through the ups and the downs, and the highs and the lows. What’s really amazing to me, Mark, about this whole thing that we’ve been experiencing as professional athletes is that when we get around each other, no matter whether it’s a Raider Alumni or at a Raider game or some other event, we can actually hug each other and tell each other we love each other. To me, that’s a very powerful thing. I play with emotions. I’m that type of guy who got excited about something. To be emotionally attached to my teammates, that will never ever leave me. That’s something that I would take to the grave with me and beyond. That’s the greatest thing I think I’ve ever gotten out of sports especially football.

FYS 011 | Jerry Robinson

Jerry Robinson: We can actually hug each other and tell each other we love each other. To me, that’s a very powerful thing.

I would include life in general. I bump into my buddies and I have the same experience from the standpoint of that camaraderie. It’s not football but it’s other stuff in life. I’ve got to tell you a story, which includes you. I got drafted out of the University of Washington. I remember one of those first Raider training camps. I get in and they say, “Pattison get in there.” I go in the offensive unit. We’re in a circle and I’m looking in the huddle. Plunkett is calling the plays. Marcus Allen is the running back. Todd Christensen is the tight end. We had about probably five All-Pros. Henry Lawrence on the line. Dave Dalby, the center. Cliff Branch is the other receiver. He calls whatever play he calls. We ready brake and we go up the line. I’m two feet away from Lester Hayes who’ve got you in there, Matt Millen, Howie Long, Lyle Alzado. The list just went on and on. I was just like, “If I ever die, this would be heaven to me. Just my football heaven.” It was amazing going back.

I want to go back to your motivation, how you got to be who you became, which is this thirteen-year NFL player. You had all kinds of accolades in college, All-American. I think you’re a three-time, ended up tenth in the Heisman voting, just this amazing career for anybody. You grew up in Santa Rosa, right?

Yes. I grew up here in Santa Rosa, my mom and dad and I had a brother named Jackie Robinson.

It wasn’t the Jackie Robinson. It must have been Jackie Robinson 2.

Yeah. My mom and dad, they named my older brother after the Jackie Robinson. I named my daughter after my brother. Growing up, we used to have to pick apples and prunes and grapes. We get up at dark. It’s 5:00 in the morning and me and my brother would be like, “What are we doing?” We go there and pick these prunes. I remember the first experience of picking prunes. We ate more prunes than we picked so we had a rough evening that first picking time. I remember by mom, she’d work harder than us. Me and my brother had more fun. At the end of the season of just before the school started, what my mom did, she took our money and all the money she made. She went out and bought us school clothes. She was trying to teach us about a strong, hard work ethic. That’s where that started from. Being here in Santa Rosa, it was interesting. The only brother I had, his name was Jackie Robinson.

What happened was my senior year in high school, I was playing at basketball tournament. It was our day off and therefore we went to watch a game to see who we’re going to play the next night for the championship. While I’m standing and watching the game, athletic director comes over to me and he says, “Jerry, you have a phone call. You can take it at my office. It’s an emergency phone call.” I go into the office and I’m on the phone talking and found out that I had to get to the hospital because my brother, I was told, was shot in the foot. I drive over, get to the hospital. I see my mom and my dad sitting outside. I said, “Where’s Jackie at?” She said, “He’s in emergency room right now.” I said, “Emergency room?” I walked through the door and as I open the door, I’m looking around and I see my brother in the far left corner in this emergency room. His body is shaking. He’s jumping off the table and this and that. I’m like, “I don’t understand.” I came outside and I said, “Mom and dad, you told me that Jackie was shot in the foot.” They said, “No. Your brother had actually been shot in the head. We didn’t want to tell you that he was shot in the head because your ride out here to the hospital could have been a difficult one.” I’m sitting there crying my eyeballs out. A few minutes later, they were wheeling my brother out taking him someplace else and I’m walking or jogging with my brother as he’s laying there. I see this hole in the temple of his head. It went in towards his temple and came out under his jaw bone. He was in a coma for over eighteen months. I learned from his struggle, from his fight for life to never give up. No matter how hard things may be, never give up.

[Tweet “No matter how hard things may be, never give up.”]

During that time, certain things were happening to me. I was informed he had died when I was at UCLA. After we had won the Rose Bowl, I immediately left UCLA and went to the Philadelphia Eagles. Coach Donahue was the head coach and I remember getting that phone call to come upstairs and see him. He told me about it. When I was with the Philadelphia Eagles my rookie year, it was difficult on me because I was a first round draft pick. Dick Vermeil was my coach at UCLA, now he’s my head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles. Some of the guys on the team and people felt like he might have been playing favoritisms. He was like, “Are you from Beverley Hills? Are you from Hollywood? Are you Dick Vermeil’s son and this and that?” They hadn’t had a first round draft pick in five, six, seven years. There were some problems. I’ll put it that way.

When you were a senior in high school, your brother got shot in the head. A year and a half later, you’re at UCLA. You’re a freshman or a sophomore. It’s hugely devastating news for you. Dick Vermeil is the coach at the time of UCLA.

He was my freshman year coach. He left after we won the Rose Bowl. He left my freshman year and went to Philadelphia Eagles. Terry Donahue becomes the head coach and that’s the phone call I’ve got. I had to come upstairs and Coach Donahue was the one that had informed me that my brother had passed away.

I have one sibling, a sister, and I can’t imagine if I would have got that call and you go down and you have to go through. I’ve had a couple of buddies passed away and that’s one thing, but when it’s your sibling, that’s a whole other level.

It was difficult, Mark. The part that I want to share with everybody is that in my rookie year, I had hurt myself. I had hurt my hamstring and I didn’t get a chance to practice much. I remember lying down on the field stretching and guys would make little comments, “What a bust the first round draft choice pick he is. He can’t even do this. He can’t do that.” I’ve tried not to let it affect me but it really did affect me. About two or three weeks in the practice, I’m never looking up watching these airplanes fly over practice. It looked like they were headed west. I thought about it and I said, “I could be on that next plane out of here if I want to be. I could tell Coach Vermeil, you could take the signing bonus back. I don’t want anything to do with this.” Then I thought about my brother, Jackie, who fought for his life. From that point on, that was my motivating factor. It was my brother, Jackie. Therefore, I named my daughter after my brother.

How old is your daughter now?

Jacque is going to be 35.

Let’s go back to college. Now, you’re playing football. It’s going well. You’re a three-time All-American. When you went to UCLA, did you just have all this talent? We all had talent obviously, but some people mature faster. They’re growing too. They just accelerate much faster. It took me a couple of years before I got going, but how was that for you?

I went to the UCLA as a wide receiver and a tight end. Wound up into three-time positions All-American as a linebacker. I think it’s amazing now that I’m retired to think about the fact that you can go from a 212-pound wide receiver to 215-pound inside linebacker. It turned out the way it turns out. What I found out was that UCLA, the coaches, had seen me in high school in a football camp too. They were impressed with the fact of the techniques and the fundamentals that I had been taught at Cardinal Newman High School here at Santa, Rosa. My coach, Lloyd, I love him to death, had always been coach to me. That’s what he taught, fundamentals and techniques. I was able to take the fundamentals and techniques that I learned playing defense in high school and a few skills catching the ball here and whatever. When they moved me over to play a linebacker, they were really impressed with my techniques and fundamentals. I was told that. I was very fortunate and blessed to have a high school coach who really understood that technique and fundamentals should be taught properly. If you understand those and if you learn those, there’s nothing that can stop you from doing what you want to do.

I do think though because I actually saw you play. I played on the same team. You’re a very athletic guy. You seemed to be more defensive-minded, which would be natural because you played four years in college at that position on the defensive side of the ball. When I caught up with you at the Raiders, now you’d been in the NFL for a while. You just seemed very natural at that position.

This is funny though. I didn’t even like football growing up. It was something to do. It was something my brother and I did together and I didn’t know what position I wanted to play. Actually, the first year I did play wide receiver. It was actually three years playing linebacker at UCLA. Mark, I had to learn a position that I’ve never played before in my life. I’d never played linebacker before. I was another position in high school. I was fortunate to have, once again, another great coach, Dr. Jed Hughes. I didn’t know anything about playing linebacker. All I knew about was Dick Butkus. I used to love the wise Dick Butkus football, the way he played. Once you’re a wide receiver, I think it’s crazy to think that you’ve got to turn around and play inside linebacker three more years in college and then thirteen years in NFL. It just turned out the way it turned out. I was fortunate.

I think part of that fortune is what you do for yourself. I think it’s also what you do for the coaches that are around you and the teammates that are brought in that played with you at that particular time. When I was at the University of Washington for years and years and years, they were very averaged team. Then Warren Moon came up and showed and Don James showed up and all of a sudden, we caught the tidal wave. I happened to be in the right place at the right time when that tidal wave hit. There are a lot of people you count on. Number one is you’ve got to take care of yourself. To think that you then coming in as a wide receiver converting over to a position you’ve never played before and then by the time you’re a senior, you ended up tenth in the Heisman voting is incredible. I don’t know where I would have fit in the list, but it surely wasn’t in the top ten. I’m thinking maybe 2,000 or something. When you’re number ten in the Heisman, did you get to go back to New York? How does that work?

The answer is yes but my senior and junior year, I was named best linebacker in the country, which now is called the Dick Butkus Award. I had the chance to go back there and hang out with the Heisman Trophy winners. It was really exciting. I never thought I would ever win it, especially now to look back and say, “At least I was tenth.”

I’m a little angry right now because I wasn’t invited. I think I would have been about 415, but I’m a little fired up. Just out of curiosity, who did win in 1979?

Billy Sims won it and Charles White won it.

Didn’t Charles White win it two years in a row?

No, only Archie Griffin. There are so many HeismanTrophy winners coming out of USC so I can understand why you would think that.

Now, you’ve got drafted by the Philly Eagles and you’re number one draft pick. You go there and Dick Vermeil was your coach. You were there for six years. Part of that is you end up going to the Super Bowl. You’ve got to tell me about that.

Playing in the Super Bowl XV as an Eagles against the Raiders was one of the highlights of my NFL career because I have always been a Raiders fan. It was one of the most exciting things for me. What’s interesting about that Super Bowl, when we get there, they’ll get you two weeks early when everyone wasn’t. We were locked down with Coach Vermeil. He was very disciplined. We were the opposite of the other Raiders. We had curfews, they didn’t. They’ve got to drive in their cars right away. We got ours two or three days before the Super Bowl. As a matter of fact, some of their players wound up coming over to our hotel because some of their college friends are playing on our team. This is weird. One night, here we had this 12:00 curfew. It was time for the families to come down. My family came down. I’ve got the chance to have dinner with them, this and that. Curfew at midnight, I was sitting at my hotel room just thinking about, “We’re locked down this and that,” so I’m watching TV. There’s the sports segment coming on and they said, “We’re going to go downtown in Bourbon Street with the Oakland Raiders.” They show Bourbon Street with John Matuszak sitting there and drinking two hurricane drinks. As John was sitting there drinking, I’m looking at the TV. I see my wife, my dad, my mom, everybody’s down in the football field. We were locked down. We can’t even get out of the room. That’s one of the things I remember about it and I do remember the way it ended. It’s a great experience to get to a Super Bowl. If you win it, it’s great. If you don’t, it’s like a lifetime of just a bad dream.

FYS 011 | Jerry Robinson

Jerry Robinson: If you win it, it’s great. If you don’t, it’s like a lifetime of just a bad dream.

I think if I remember correctly, you got beat fairly soundly by the Raiders. Jim Plunkett was the MVP of the game. Is that right?

Yeah. As a matter of fact, he just reminds me of that at this past Raider Alumni Weekend. Every time I see Jim and his kids, his wife wants to thank me and the Philadelphia Eagles for his Super Bowl Mercedes Benz he got for MVP.

When I came in, he took me under his wing as his rook. I was doing things that I hadn’t done before in terms of pre-game preparation with Plunk. You just held on your hat and it’s the Plunk. You’re there for six years and then you’ve got your dream call. You’ve got traded or how did that work in terms of getting to the LA Raiders?

The Eagles had been sold to a man named Norman Braman who was this big car tycoon or whatever he was down there. There were some things that had taken place just prior to Leonard Tose selling the team. There were a lot of unhappy ball players like ten of us. Myself and a guy named Dennis Harrison were the only two guys that refused to go to the training camp unless something was done about the situation and packed up. Everybody was talking, “We’ll hold out together,” but when the push came to shove, the other guys went in. Dennis and I we held our ground. I said, “First of all, those teams are somewhere cold. I’m already at Philly. Chilly Philly is cold enough for me. I’m not going anywhere cold.” He said, “Where do you want to go?” I said, “Raiders.” He said, “Give me your second choice.” I said, “Raiders.” He said, “Third choice.” I said, “Raiders.” Raiders have always been the team I wanted to go to. I was able to get to the Raiders because I had an issue with what was going on with the Philadelphia Eagles. I’m here to tell you the truth is that I hated to leave Philly because their fans are just awesome. They are really truly awesome fans. I love the city. If I was leaving Philly, I’m coming home and I won’t play for the Raiders. The thing of it was, they were no longer the Oakland Raiders, they were the LA Raiders.

When I got traded, my bag was packed because I had spoken to San Francisco 49ers and they said, “We made a trade for you.” I had packed my bag. I had to catch a flight. Allen Davis called my wife, Cindy, and told her to tell Jerry, “Don’t get on the plane because we’re working on something.” I’m like, “What?” Next thing I know, I’ve got a call from head coach Flores, “We’ve traded for you and this and that.” That’s how that went down like that, but it was exciting. It was a dream come true to play for the Raiders because they are such two different types of organizations and the coaching staff were all different. I came to the Raiders. I remember, Al, all he cared about was just winning. That was what he was. He said, “I don’t care what you do. I don’t care what you do during the course of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. If you play hard for me, you can get arrested during the week, and I’ll get you out of jail and I’ll pay you.” I had to test that out if he was a man of his word.

Let’s go down that path then about challenging times, about overcoming things. Let’s go back to 1987 and you got arrested for driving under the influence. You want to talk about that?

That was an interesting time of my life. First of all, I’d like to say thank God there was no social media back in the days because we’d all be in big trouble right now. It was just something stupid I’ve done. That’s what it was, bad decision. Drinking and driving, and it was silly. I got caught. I learned from it. It was a changing point in my life. I remember coming home and my incident was broadcast in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and some other language. I just remember realizing the mistake that I had made and the harm and embarrassment that I was actually bringing upon my family and my friends and people from Santa Rosa or people I might have gone to school with and my mom and dad. We all make mistakes. That was a big mistake of my life but I’ve learned from that. Actually, I’ve just celebrated my twentieth year of sobriety. Obviously, I learned from it.

When you watch the TV now and you watch the news, there are so many guys that would get involved and get into trouble here and there. I understand that. We all make mistakes. You’ve got to learn from it. These kids aren’t learning from it because some are repeat offenders over and over again. I get it. There’s a sickness that they have. Whether it’s drinking alcohol or drugs or domestic violence or whatever it may be, they all have a sickness and they really need some help. I understand suspended people because one way to get to somebody is affecting their pocketbook. That’s one way to do it. I think while you’re being suspended, you need to be in a treatment program for whatever it is that caused you to go into that dark space, once, twice, three times whatever it is. This game does not last long. When you’re finished playing this game, if you’re not together, you’re going to continue to do the same thing. It was a learning experience for me, twenty years of sobriety. It always feels good whenever I tell my story. I never have a problem talking about it.

First of all, congratulations to you. We all make mistakes. I think for a lot us the only difference is who got caught and who didn’t. My daughter was at a rock festival over in Coachella over in Palm Desert. She was with a bunch of girls. Some of them were under-aged. She was twenty, she’s now twenty one. This was two weeks before her 21st birthday and she happened to be standing there and all these cops came around. She wasn’t drinking. She wasn’t doing anything and they gave her a minor in possession just for being associated in that group. I said, “Claudette, the only difference between you and me is you got caught and I didn’t.” That’s one point. Then the second point is and I think you’ve done this is that if you want to be successful in life, then hang out with successful people and do what they’re doing. Take those best qualities. Conversely, if you’re hanging out with bad people and doing the things you shouldn’t be doing especially as a professional athlete, knowing the consequences, then you’re just not using good judgment. It’s pretty simple to me.

[Tweet “Winners hang out with winners.”]

Winners hang out with winners. It’s the company that you keep is the way you’re going to be judged. You could be in the wrong place at the wrong time just by guilt by association, and then you’re life could be changed and it could be ruined because of that. You have to be really careful and understand nowadays, especially with this social media thing going on. When you go somewhere, you never know whose cell phone is recording something that you’re doing that could be embarrassing to you and your family. You’ve got to be really careful nowadays.

I agree with everything you just said, but I would say I would assume that everybody is photographing and taking pictures and videoing everything you’re doing.

It’s, ”Lights, camera, action,” because that’s what everybody is doing. Thank God there was no social media back in the day.

You morph with the times. You and I did not grow up with social media and we have learned it as we go and these kids have. They just should know better, number one. Number two, life can be very fleeting just like with your brother unfortunately. One minute you’re there and the next minute you’re not. Then you’re our age and you’re going, “Did I really need to do that?” For those people who really get it, they’re very fortunate. Maybe they’ve had some great mentorship along the way with their parents and friends. For those who don’t, it’s unfortunate. You get one shot at the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball, professional soccer, professional sports and if you blow it, it’s very rare when you get a redo. You ended your career with the Raiders. I’m interested in talking to you about what that was like for you. I know for me I was in good position financially, but I just felt really lost like, “What was I going to do? What was my new purpose?” What was that like for you?

I know one thing. I did not watch any football for a whole year. I couldn’t do it. It was hard for me. My kids could watch it. I remember my daughters, Jacque and Jill, said the first Raider game they saw, “Dad, he’s wearing your number.” I told my daughter and I said, “That’s not my number. That’s somebody else’s number. As a matter of fact, you’ve got to understand something. That’s all you are, is just a number. That’s what you are.” Jacque went on full volleyball scholarship to University of Florida. Jill has earned full scholarship to University of Miami, outstanding volleyball players. I want to make sure they understood, “That’s all you are, is just a number. Make the best of it because when you’re gone, they’re going to give it to somebody else.”

FYS 011 | Jerry Robinson

Jerry Robinson: That’s all you are, is just a number. Make the best of it because when you’re gone, they’re going to give it to somebody else.

I did not want to watch football. I didn’t watch it for a whole year. I wasn’t in a hurry to go to a gym, lift any weights and do any running. When I was finished, I was finished. It was difficult in a sense that you’re treated differently when you’re an athlete. That’s the honest-to-goodness truth. How many dinners have you gone to that you never had to pay for? You walk into someplace. It’s like Michael Jordan could go into a restaurant. He wouldn’t have to pay for his meal. He can afford to pay for everybody in there but for some reason they just, “No, don’t worry about it.” You get used to being pampered and treated in a certain way, which I loved it. I noticed that changed. I didn’t miss the part of being in the limelight because I’m a pretty low-key, quiet guy. I don’t need to be around the crowd of people to feel good. Some people still need to be, when they walk into some place and then somebody knows who they are. I’m cool with just being me. If you found out who I am, that’s a whole other story. I let all that go. I think it made it a little easier for me to drift away from the game.

Everybody’s got their own thing. I did miss that part of it between the Raiders and when I was traded down to New Orleans. The guy who I hung out with all the time just got inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s Morten Andersen. I’d never been on a team before where the kicker is the star of the team. The kicker is the kicker. The kicker is like Marcus Allen down there. It was crazy. Everywhere we’d go, we never paid for anything. Then all of a sudden one day, it’s cut off. That’s a big adjustment. All of us have connection ties. Do you go to the Raider games? Are you involved with them at all? What is your role if any with those guys?

I work with the Raiders during the season. Raiders legends, the guys that live up here in Northern California. We do suite visitations. We go around and get the chance to meet a lot of people, thank this people for spending their hard earned money and still support the Raiders. That’s a good feeling because some people recognize you, some people don’t but that’s okay too. Those that don’t especially these young kids, they don’t care if they know you or not, they know you played for the Raiders and that’s exciting enough. To see the expressions in these people’s face when we walk into these rooms, there are fifteen of us or something like that.

Who’s in that group? It’s you and Cliff; I know he’s in that group.

No, it’s not Cliff. It’s Vance Mueller, Sam Williams, Barry Sims, a lot of guys. That’s what we do during the season. It keeps me still in touch and involved with the Raiders and we do some Raider Image stores for Saturday night before the game. During football season, the home games, I’m there the whole game. I like it for a couple of reasons because besides meeting people and saying hello and thanking them and taking pictures and signing autographs, you have a chance to see some other players. Linden King was in there, then Mitch Willis from SMU. I get the chance to see guys like Clem Daniels and Biletnikoff. Those people that I saw growing up so I’m still attached to the Raiders during the season. It is good. It is healthy. It makes me feel good that you’re still wanted and people still appreciate what you’ve done.

I want you to invite me up there and you and I go to Raider game some time and feel wanted like that. That would be great.

Just let me know. You know how busy you are and Coach Mora.

I invited you down this way and you ended up back in College Station last year with Jamaal. You and Jaamal on the sideline there. It was great.

Jamaal and Donovan, the young ball player from UCLA in that Series Bowl. I had a great time. If I’m down that way, I do know I always got a place to stay and somebody hang out with, with you. I appreciate that. Whatever you want to know, wherever you want to go, let me know. You don’t even have to let me know. All you’ve got to do is call Fudgie. I want people to understand something. Mark, I love you. You know I do. I remember you telling me, “JR, if you ever down here, if you want to come to any game you pick out, any game you want to come to, you don’t have to worry about it. You’ll be on the sideline with me and this and that.” Mark Pattison, you’re a man of your word. Mark, that meant a lot to me because it hasn’t always been that way. Because of you, I do know that anytime I’m down there I’m on the sideline, you and Coach Mora. It means a lot to me. It really does. It hasn’t always been that way and you just made it so much easier to me and I appreciate you and Coach Mora with that.

It’s Coach Mora at the end of the day. Jim and I are best buddies.

You and I played together. You and I know each other. That’s one of your best friends right there. The next thing you know, I’m standing on the sideline. I’ll never forget the Texas A&M game, standing there at that tunnel. They were standing in the tunnel. They were waiting for UCLA to run out of the field and Coach Mora refused to let the ball players go. He said, “No. We’re going to let them go out first,” so we’re coming out behind him. I was like, “What a move.” It was pretty freaking awesome that day in College Station. I remember the dude with the yellow jackets on. He said, “Staff,” whatever. He’s trying to keep Coach Mora to get the guys to, “Run out on the field.” He was like, “No. Hold back.” We’re getting fired up. It was exciting.

I’d been all over the country in all these games between myself playing like you and then with Jim now going into his six-year. I travelled to his all games. Probably of every single stadium I’ve ever been in, it had the best college enthusiasm and fans support I’ve seen. Washington, LSU and these other places are fantastic and amazing, but they just took it to a whole another level.

They were so polite. They were polite before the game. They were even polite after the game. It was an experience. It really was. I’m glad you said that because when I ran into people from Texas or might be A&M fans, I would say, “I’ve never seen in my whole life the way your fans are and the respect that they have for people and the hospitality that they have for teams that come in there.” You’re right, it was something. Sorry we lost but it was still something.

Jerry, I always like to ask the question and you’ve been through a lot. You had this tremendous success. You’ve had some setbacks personally like me and pretty much everybody else. I always ask the question. If you haven’t been a through a tough time, then you’re lying. What advice would you have for anybody that’s going through a tough time and just trying to make it to the other side?

[Tweet “You have to realize that you don’t have to do it by yourself. “]

It’s understanding that you’re not in it alone. You have to realize that you don’t have to do it by yourself. In my situation, I knew from my upbringing that no matter what situation I was in, good, bad, depression or whatever it is, all I had to do was call on God and turn it over to Him. That’s how I deal with it. You can’t just keep the stuff inside of you because it will kill you. It’s like a volcano. It’s sitting there boiling and boiling and boiling. If you’re going through some situation in life, you need to talk to somebody about it. Once you talk to somebody, it’s like turning out pressures out of there. Letting that steam of out there before it erupts. Understand that sometimes we go into these downward spirals, but you don’t have to stay in it. When I realized that the most important thing is to have that attitude of gratitude and understand that there’s a purpose for you here. Make the best of it while you’re here.

My dad’s dead. He’s been gone. My mom got killed in a car wreck in 2006. My brother got shot in the head and died. He got shot in the head while I’m in high school and he died when I’m in college. They’re all buried at the same cemetery. When I go out to that cemetery, once a month at least, and I sit there or I kneel there or I just lay down whatever it is to be with my family, I realized once you reach this place, it’s final. There is no more, “I love you or I miss you.” You don’t have one more opportunity to do anything. While we are here on this Earth, make the best out of it. Be the best person that you can be. Treat people the way you wanted to be treated. Treat people with respect because there’s one reservation, there’s one date that we all will not be late for, that’s that day that we pass on. Just appreciate what you have now. If you take time to take some personal inventory, you’ll find there is a lot of good in there. If there’s a not a lot of good, there is some good because we’re all good to start with. Sometimes it’s the environment and the situations and the people we hang around with, which makes us change into something else.

FYS 011 | Jerry Robinson

Jerry Robinson: While we are here on this Earth, make the best out of it. Be the best person that you can be.

That was so beautifully spoken, number one. Number two is I am super grateful that you were able to come on this podcast and share your life story. It’s amazing. The third thing, as always and I know it flows both directions, but totally love you. You’ve always been one of those guys no matter what, things can be at their worst or the best with you and you’re going to always be there. That says a lot about you. It says a lot about you as a person. Those are the type of people that I want to be around and associate myself with. I so appreciate it.

I love you too. Ain’t no mountain high enough for you. The fact that you accept that challenge to climb, to reach these summits, to reach the mountaintop, I have a lot of respect for you. I don’t do it, but I do know you have to be in shape mentally and physically. To think about this, to complete the task, I take my hat off to you because you don’t stop and you never give up. I’ve got to tell people, “Never give up on your dreams.” You should always shoot for the top like that because you do it. I’m proud of you. I’m going to leave the mountain climbing to the highest peaks to you because you could do it and you enjoy doing it. It’s a challenge. I appreciate it and I have a big real respect for you. You know how much I love you. Thank you for having me on your podcast. I really appreciate it.

Jerry, if anybody wants to find you, do you have a Facebook or Twitter account?

You could find me on Facebook, Jerry Robinson.

Jerry, thank you so much.

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