Legends Lost, Stories Skipped and Players Profiled

Justin May 14, 2012 1

Junior Seau was the most noteworthy former NFL’er to die in the past few weeks, but he wasn’t the only one.

Former Giant Stacy Robinson passed away at the age of 50, following a three year battle with multiple myeloma. The news was obviously overshadowed by Seau, who was a bigger star and died under far more disturbing circumstances (which we will discuss later in the review,) but I think it deserves some attention.

The fact that Stacy Robinson has died makes me sad. Not only because I am a human with emotions, but also because his name evokes a very specific memory for me.   That memory has very little to do with Stacy Robinson. I have no memory of ever seeing him play. I had to look him up to see what position he played. All I knew was that he was a member of the Giants’ 1986 championship team.

This is because of a t-shirt.

I was a few months past 8 years when the Giants won the NFC championship game against the Redskins. I watched the games every week with my dad, I knew who Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks and Joe Morris were, and I got very excited that I was going to watch the Superbowl. That was the extent of my football experience.

At some point in between the NFC Championship game and the Superbowl, my father bought me a bootleg t-shirt from a street vendor in lower Manhattan. I remember it being huge, but I wanted to wear it anyway.  It was the coolest shirt I had ever seen in my entire life. That was before I read the front of the shirt.Over a huge Rose Bowl emblem,  It read “New York Giants Super Bowl 21 Champions.”

“But, Dad, ” I asked, “How do they know? They haven’t played the game yet.”

“I guess they just expect the Giants to win,” he told me.

That was not good enough for logical little Justin. I decided I couldn’t wear the shirt until after the Super Bowl, and then, only if the Giants won. So, I got nervous. The ability to wear this t-shirt to school became the most pressing issue in my life. Every day, I would come home and look at it, study it really. There was a lot going on. There was the Rose Bowl logo, there was Roman Numerals, there was a Giants emblem and, on the back, was the entire 1986 Giants roster.

I read the roster over and over again. Two names jumped out at 8 year old me. One was Pepper Johnson. PEPPER! There’s a guy named Pepper? Is that his real name? It must be a nickname. Hey, dad, what’s his real name? Why do they call him Pepper?

The other name was Stacy Robinson. HOW CAN THERE BE A BOY NAMED STACY?  Do you think that’s why he became a football player? Is he tough because people made fun of him for having a girl’s name? Is it short for something? Are there other men named Stacy? Dad, do you know any other men named Stacy?

The Giants obviously won.  I went on to wear the t-shirt even though it was so huge it hung below my knees. Kids at school may have told me it was cool. Maybe Kevin Pollack or Clint Miller got jealous. I don’t remember. I hadn’t thought about any of it in 25 years.

Until this week, when I saw the name Stacy Robinson and it all came back to me.

Sports Illustrated: May 14th, 2002

Junior  Seau, Football,

AFTER THE JUMP: BOXING AND HORSE RACING? NO THANK YOU!

PREGAME:

It’s ironic that Michael Farber wrote an appreciation of Doc Emrick’s brilliant use of the English language during hockey broadcasts. Michael Farber is one of the biggest enemies of the English language I have ever read. Every thing he writes is a tangle of tortured metaphors and forced call backs to previous references. But, he’s correct. Doc Emrick makes good games great and he makes great games unbelievable. His calls of the Rangers-Caps series were brilliant, and I expect his calls of the Rangers and Devils wil be even better.

THE ARTICLES:

Why? By Jim Trotter

It took me a couple of hours to fully understand just how a big a deal Junior Seau’s death was and is. At first, it was just a TMZ style story, “Hey, remember this guy? Yeah? Well, he’s dead.”  But, then I started reading all the remembrances from former teammates, friends and complete strangers. (This one, from Deadspin, was especially touching.) Jim Trotter’s article, combined with a personal remembrance from Peter King and a look at the science by David Epstein, serves as a fitting eulogy to a man who represented so much to so many people and who’s death may help save lives in the future.

Another Way To Win by Tim Layden

Layden writes about the Kentuck Derby. Horses smell. I did not read this article.

Still Perfect by Chris Mannix

Mannix writes about Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. I did not read this article either.

The Russian Question by Michael Farber

Michael Farber is back, this time with a discussion about whether Russian NHL’ers are too selfish to be true winners. The entire premise is kind of shameful. I do not blame Farber for writing about it, because the belief obviously exists among NHL decision makers. I was especially surprised that the Oilers may reconsider taking the consensus top player in the draft with their number one pick, not because of questions about his individual character, but because he’s Russian.  I am reminded of Branch Rickey’s decision to break baseball’s color barrier with Jackie Robinson. He wasn’t the best black ballplayer, but he was the one that Rickey thought would be the most successful while not rocking the boat. I feel like we should be past that sort of thinking at this point.

Where Does Greatness Come? From by Chris Ballard

Ballard catches up with Jelly Bean Bryant, Kobe’s father. The story about Jelly Bean coaching 14 year old girls makes him sound especially likable.   And while this is an excellent profile of an interesting guy in an interesting situation, I don’t know that it ever answers the question posed in the headline. Where does greatness come from? In the case of Kobe, it doesn’t seem like anyone really knows.

Point After by Phil Taylor

Taylor tackles an issue that has become prominent in the past several days.  Should parents let their kids play football? I don’t have kids, but if I did, at this point, I don’t think I would allow it.

One Comment »

  1. John May 14, 2012 at 10:06 pm -

    “Logical Little Justin”. That has all the makings of a hit children’s cartoon. I would watch.

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