"If I make this, this will be the pinnacle," Robinson told Packer Report recently. "You can make All-Pro, you can be MVP of the Pro Bowl, but that's nothing. Once you get in the Hall of Fame, you can't go any higher. Everybody in the Hall of Fame is the same. You're recognized as one of the finest to ever play the game. There were over 14,000 people to put on a uniform and that was their goal. There's nothing else. There's no other award that can be higher than the Hall of Fame. That's the bottom line. I'm just hoping to be one of their members."
The other inductees are offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden, defensive linemen Warren Sapp and Curley Culp, receiver Cris Carter and coach Bill Parcells. Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, the NFL's all-time leading sacker among linebackers, fell short again.
"Oh, man, of course it's the championships, No. 1," Robinson said when asked what he took the most pride in during his career. "But the big thing is the recognition and the admiration of my teammates. An interesting thing happened (since being nominated) and I've had calls from players I played against congratulating me. Let me tell you, I love you and I love my own teammates, but they're all predisposed to saying that and being in my corner. When the guys you went head-to-head with, when they call to say congratulations, that means more because they're the ones I was trying to impress. Vince Lombardi would say, ‘When you walk off the field, the guy across the line from you should say I just played against the best guard, the best tackle, the best linebacker of the National Football League. If everybody says that, we're going to win.' That's why I feel so honored is the guys calling to say congratulations. I might not get in, but I'll always remember those words from those guys."
Robinson joined Willie Davis and Herb Adderley to form the dominant left side of Vince Lombardi's championship defenses.
"The things that made him a great linebacker were his size, speed and intelligence," Robinson said in quotes distributed by the Packers. "Of course everyone makes mistakes, but Dave never made the same mistake twice. He was a great team player. He helped Tom Brown, our strong safety, to cover a tight end. He was one of the few linebackers in the league that could hold up the tight ends at the line of scrimmage, great tight ends like Mike Ditka and John Mackey. What people don't realize is that Dave holding up the tight end gave Tom Brown more time to diagnose the play and to cover the tight end. It helped the defensive linemen to get in and rush the quarterback because it would throw the timing off and the quarterback would have to hold the ball longer. It also helped me when I was covering the split end.
"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. 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. It gives me tremendous satisfaction because Dave is a very dear friend of mine."
Robinson was a first-round pick by Green Bay in 1963 and a Pro Bowler in 1966, 1967 and 1969. He was part of three championship teams and was selected to the NFL's all-1960s team. He played for the Packers through 1972 — recovering from a torn Achilles that cost him most of 1970 — and finished his career with two years in Washington.
"On behalf of the Green Bay Packers, I want to congratulate Dave on his well-deserved election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in quotes distributed by the team. "He was such a vital part of those great defenses in the 1960s that helped the team win NFL championships and Super Bowl titles under Vince Lombardi. Dave's contributions to the Packers have not been limited to the field, as he has also been a great ambassador for the organization over the years. We are thrilled that he received this honor."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.