Dave Robinson (1963-1972)

Dave Robinson Football Card


  • Born: May 3rd, 1941 – Mount Holly, New Jersey
  • College: Penn State
  • Years Active: Green Bay Packers (1963-1972), Washington Redskins (1973-1974)
  • Position: Linebacker
  • Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame Induction: 1982
  • Professional Football Hall of Fame Induction: 2013


After playing high school football, Dave went on to play college football at Penn State. However, Dave did not intend on going to college with the soul purpose of playing football. Football was his only way to help pay for his education at a good school, in order to get a good job and be able to support his future family.

In 1961, Penn State football team was invited to play at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. When word got out that they were invited, coaches and officials started receiving hate mail for allowing a team with an African American player play. Upon this realization the coaches put it out for a vote with the team as to whether or not they should attend. All members of the team voted yes except for Dave. Worried that Dave would have felt uncomfortable or endangered the in the segregated south the coaches reassured him that they would all stay together no matter what. When in reality, the real reason why Dave voted “no” was because he received a job at the Post Office over winter break and didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to make money.

When the team got to Florida, he realized why everyone was concerned. “We go down there and we can’t stay in Jacksonville because Jacksonville’s got a non-integrated living law… I couldn’t live in the white hotels; they couldn’t live in the black hotels.” 1. Because of this living law the team stayed in St. Augustine. During post game and post practice times, the team would enjoy some time spent downtown. Dave was hesitant to join because he did not know how he would be received by the public. One teammate convinced him to go with him to get a burger one night. At the restaurant Dave ordered a soda. When the waitress brought everyone else their burgers, she did not bring his drink, when he asked her about it she apologized and he saw his coke sitting in a to-go cup on the counter. He proceeded to get up to leave, and pay for his drink when the waitress reminded him to grab his soda. Dave responded, “You couldn’t pay me to drink that coke”2 and walked out the door.

When the day of the game came, the Pittsburgh Courier’s headline stated “Dave Robinson to Integrate Gator Bowl”. Dave did not like this attention because he was there to play football and do what he came to do. When the game started the coaches approached him saying that he could not start this game because another teammate needed more experience in a starting position. Dave willingly allowed while being disappointed because this was a big game for him to show people what he was capable of. After the game the coaches revealed that his life would be threatened if he started the game: “If you introduce a black bear, if he comes running out before the game, I’m a marksman, I was in the military, and I’ll shoot him on the 50-yard line on national TV”3  was stated in a letter sent to the coaches and staff.

While in Green Bay, Dave still faced discrimination while being a professional football player. When walking around a store people would assume that he was a professional football player because that was the stereotype at that time. There were not a lot of African Americans in Green Bay in the 1960’s. People would also assume that his wife was a go-go dancer which associated her as a hooker and people would ask her where she was dancing that night. His children were affected as well. People always wanted to touch and play with their hair and that never really sat well with Dave. In one instance his landlord stated “It’s not much of a house but probably a lot better than the one you’ve got at home.”4 After that comment, Dave pulled out a photo of his home and showed it to the landlord, and his landlord became surprised and shocked at what he saw. Dave defended the community of Green Bay by saying, “They were just uninformed and didn’t know”5. He never let it affect him in any way.


Through all of the hardships and treatments that have happened in his life Dave always remained humble and positive and never let the stereotypes define who he is. He saw him as his team and family saw him, and that all that really mattered to him.

Did you know Dave Robinson only used football as a way to afford to go to Penn State?


  1. Adderley, Herb, Dave Robinson and Royce Boyles. Lombardi’s Left Side. Olathe, KS: Ascend Books, 2012. 71.
  2. Adderley, Herb, Robinson, Dave, and Boyles, Royce. Lombardi’s Left Side. Olathe, KS: Ascend Books, 2012. 72.
  3. Adderley, Herb, Robinson, Dave, and Boyles, Royce. Lombardi’s Left Side. Olathe, KS: Ascend Books, 2012. 73.
  4. Adderley, Herb, Robinson, Dave, and Boyles, Royce. Lombardi’s Left Side. Olathe, KS: Ascend Books, 2012. 85.
  5. Adderley, Herb, Robinson, Dave, and Boyles, Royce. Lombardi’s Left Side. Olathe, KS: Ascend Books, 2012. 85.