Johnny Robinson selected as senior candidate for HOF Class of 2019


Johnny Robinson photo courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs

CANTON, Ohio — The Pro Football Hall of Fame senior committee on Friday selected former Kansas City Chiefs’ safety Johnny Robinson Friday as its one senior nominee for the Class of 2019.

Robinson was chosen to the 1960s’ NFL all-decade team but was the only one of the 22 position players still without a bust. He had been a modern-era finalist six times but has been in the senior pool for the last 17 years.

“I was thinking the window had closed on me,” Robinson said. “I’m 79 years old. I’m thrilled to my bones.”

Robinson was the third overall selection of the 1960 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions but opted to sign with the AFL Dallas Texans. He spent his first two seasons as a running back before moving to safety in 1962. As a rookie, he finished in the Top 5 in the AFL in total offensive yards. The Texans relocated from Dallas to Kansas City in 1963 and became the Chiefs.

Robinson played safety his final 10 seasons and intercepted 57 passes, which ties him for 13th all-time. He led the AFL with 10 interceptions in 1966 and then led the NFL, again with 10, in the first season of the merged leagues in 1970. The Chiefs went 35-1-1 in games in which Robinson intercepted a pass. He went to seven Pro Bowls and helped the Texans/Chiefs win three AFL championships and a Super Bowl. He also was selected to the all-time All-AFL team.

“So why isn’t he already in the Hall of Fame,” Hall-of-Fame receiver Lance Alworth asked on a recent Talk of Fame Network podcast (http://www.talkoffamenetwork.com/lance-alworth-its-time-for-hall-to-admit-johnny-robinson/ ). “He should be. I don’t think there is any more he could’ve done. But it’s a damn good thing he didn’t … or there wouldn’t be a few of us in there.”

Robinson survived a field of 23 senior candidates for this honor. He now becomes one of the 18 finalists for the Class of 2019. The class also will include 15 modern-era finalists and two contributors. Robinson and the two contributors, who will be selected next week, need 80 percent of the vote for election to the Hall.

Robinson is looking to join five other teammates from the 1969 Super Bowl-winning defense of the Chiefs. Tackles Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp, linebackers Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier and cornerback Emmitt Thomas already have busts in Canton.

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22 Comments

  1. social media
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    Mr Gosselin etc.

    from the world wide web

    Twitter link

    “HERE’S JOHNNY!
    ⬇️⬇️
    https://twitter.com/Sports___Fan/status/1030514883756871680

  2. Justin
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    Great news. Must have been difficult to nominate a third KC defensive player as a senior candidate, after Culp and Thomas. Still, very well deserved. The committee should be congratulated.

    • Rick Gosselin
      August 17, 2018
      Reply

      Robinson was the only position player from the 1960s NFL all-decade first team not in. He was a worthy choice.

      • Justin
        August 18, 2018
        Reply

        As I already noted, I am a big support of Johnny Robinson, and the committee should be congratulated on a fine choice. However, is the committee concerned that some teams have monopolized the senior process? Including Johnny Robinson, there have been 60 senior nominees. Detroit has had 8 of those nominees (Walker, Creekmur twice, Sanders, LeBeau, Stanfel three times), and honestly I think Karras and Roger Brown have great arguments as well. Kansas City now has four of the last 30 nominees (all off of the same team). On the other end of the spectrum, Arizona–the oldest existing professional franchise–has never had a senior nominee elected and only had Goldberg nominated twice. In addition, the Colts have never had a nominee despite having existed since 1953. Neither have the Jets or Chargers despite having existed since 1960. I know you have been sensitive to this in the past, but I’m curious if this ever comes up in the deliberations. If not, do you believe it should?

        • bachslunch
          August 18, 2018
          Reply

          In theory, that’s a fair point. In practice, though, some franchises have a slew of bad Senior snubs and some have few or none.

          For example, the Cardinals really only have one significant Senior snub, Duke Slater, and an arguably lesser one in Ken Gray. That’s it. With all due respect to Jim Marshall and Chuck Foreman (who I don’t consider significant omissions), the only major Vikings Senior snub now is Joey Browner. The only significant Colt snub is Bobby Boyd, perhaps also Gene Lipscomb (not a big Mike Curtis fan). The only Charger snubs are Walt Sweeney and probably Earl Faison.

          On the other hand, the Packers have Lavvie Dilweg, Verne Lewellen, Bobby Dillon, and Billy Howton as well as arguably lesser ones like Bill Forester and Gale Gillingham. The Rams have a bunch of good options such as Eddie Meador, Duane Putnam, Harold Jackson, Riley Matheson, and probably Nolan Cromwell. And the Cowboys have Chuck Howley, Drew Pearson, and Cliff Harris plus lesser snubs like Cornell Green and John Niland.

  3. Steve
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    Rick, is there only one seniors candidate nominated every year, thought it was two?

    • Rick Gosselin
      August 17, 2018
      Reply

      Every other year. This year it’s one senior, two contributors. Last year it was 2 seniors (Kramer, Brazile) and one contributor (Beathard).

      • Steve
        August 17, 2018
        Reply

        Thanks Rick. Peter King just wrote this week that he was supporting Cliff Branch and Joe Klecko so I thought it was two.

        Good for the deserving Robinson but I really hope Cliff gets his due soon.

        • bachslunch
          August 18, 2018
          Reply

          With all due respect to Joe Klecko (who wouldn’t be the worst Senior option), I’d prefer to get in some of the really old guys who are deserving and still alive, such as Billy Howton and Bobby Dillon (both 88), Del Shofner (83), Chuck Howley (82j, Eddie Meador (81), and Maxie Baughan (80) before they die.

          We’ve already lost guys like Larry Grantham, Al Wistert, Earl Faison, Bobby Boyd, Winston Hill, Walt Sweeney, Houston Antwine, and Duane Putnam the last few years, none of whom ever got a chance in the room and deserve to have their cases heard.

          • brian wolf
            August 19, 2018

            I agree with you on true older senior candidates getting nods while theyre still alive, especially Howton, Howley, Baughn and Lee Roy Jordan. I am pulling for Winston Hill next year because his omission is a travesty. Though we lost Sweeney of SD as well, I have a question; As great a player as Sweeney was, though admitting steriod use, Why doesnt OG Bob Young of St Louis/Hou not get enough recognition ? Yes, he did steriods, just as Sweeney, Webster and other players did as well, but from the games I have seen or collected off Oldtimessports website, he was a true mauler who doesnt get mentioned enough as a great player. Another great guard was Glen Ressler of the Colts but his career may have not lasted long enough. Cowboy OT Ralph Neeley was another excellent player that hopefully was looked at by the senior commitee.

          • bachslunch
            August 20, 2018

            Wasn’t familiar with Bob Young. Long career, looks like, though only a 1/2/none honors profile. No idea how he looks in film study. There are a few OL with thin honors who reportedly look good in film study such as Bob Skoronski, Fuzzy Thurston, and Ed White, and perhaps that’s true of him as well.

            Hill unfortunately just died. Agreed, he has a strong HoF case, as does Sweeney.

            Re steroid use, it seems to have been rife among the 60s Chargers, and some of them are already in the HoF. There’s no character clause for the PFHoF, and such drugs weren’t against NFL rules at the time, so I’m inclined to give folks like Sweeney a pass. Besides, I suspect use of this and HGH and other stuff was rampant over the next several decades, and nobody seemed to think it mattered at the time as far as a HoF issue. And gambling on NFL games is arguably a bigger issue in terms of game integrity, and guys like Paul Hornung and Joe Schmidt and Bobby Layne are in anyway.

  4. brian wolf
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks for the article Rick. Robinson is richly overdue. I just wish another senior member could be chosen with only one contributor instead of two. I would like to be controversial and ask that former Brown CB Bernie Parrish be selected someday as a “contributor” instead of some owner or team/league executive. First off, he was an excellent player who I believe was blackballed by Art Modell and the League for being a true PLAYER ADVOCATE who had the audacity to challenge team owners and the commisioners bottom line. Even Paul Brown criticised him in his book but started him on his defence from day one. Then Parrish continued his fight for all players and former players by not only calling out reformation of the NFL Players Union but trying to bring in Marvin Miller to run it before he went to help Professional Baseball players. Everyone knows about his book “They Call It A Game” which I believe for its time was the only book that was actual fact based Dissent. Though admittedly, their were Parrish “theories” that no one really knows for sure had any truth or not. He also called out the owners ties to organized gambling. Since then, Parrish has continued his player advocacy on his own dime while NFL owners and history has tried to brush him aside. As a former player, true player advocate and intelligent dissenter as well… Bernie Parrish should be elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame as a Contributor

  5. Michael Avolio
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    Well deserved, Robinson is a Hall of Famer.

    I just wish so many other deserving guys weren’t overlooked.

  6. Bob
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    Great news and a most worthy player.
    8x AllPros (6x API First Teams)
    7 Pro Bowls
    2x Interception Leader AFL/NFL
    AFL ALL-Time Team
    Pro Football Hall of Fame Combined Team of the Decade 1960s
    Pro Football First All Pro Team
    57 career interceptions (in 10 yr. period)
    Five time Interception Leader of Chiefs
    Winningest player in AFL
    Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame
    Kansas City Chiefs All-Time Team
    Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
    Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
    LSU Sports Hall of Fame
    LSU Team of the Century
    LSU 1958 National Championship Team

  7. bachslunch
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    Great choice! Extremely old but still alive to enjoy it, extremely deserving. Got screwed over when he was a regular finalist because of anti-AFL bias. Fine honors profile of 6/7/allAFL and reportedly looks terrific in film study, ranks second highest of all players looked at in Ken Crippen’s site, only behind Don Hutson. Can’t argue with this choice at all.

    Give credit where it’s due — the selection committee did a great job this time. This is the kind of thing the Senior slots are for.

    Very happy with this decision. And congratulations to Robinson!

  8. Ed
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    A great, deserved choice, although still holding out hope for Chuck Howley and Cliff Harris in the future (obvious Cowboy fan here).

    Rick – will it be released, or would you share, who the other 22 senior candidates were? Also – any talk on a larger class of seniors (more than 2) for 2020 induction in honor of 100th anniversary of NFL?

    • Rick Gosselin
      August 18, 2018
      Reply

      HOF doesn’t make the list of senior or contributor finalists public. Still hoping for an amnesty-type class for the NFL’s 100th anniversary but nothing definitive yet. Two senior finalists in 2020, though.

      • Justin
        August 18, 2018
        Reply

        If the committee evaluated 23 candidates this year, that means it will take the committee 15.3 years just to nominate those candidates who were “in the room” this year to the full committee (at the current 1.5 a year pace). Of course, this doesn’t include players like Mike Kenn and Karl Mecklenburg who (unfortunately) are likely to join this group in the near future. This backlog is untenable. There has to be an celebratory class (I hate the phrase “amnesty” class because it makes it sound like these players did something wrong, which of course they did not). The only concern I have is how the class is structured. Is it one player per decade? That doesn’t work obviously for the last couple decades. Is it one player per team? That greatly harms Dallas who arguably has three of the most worthy candidates (Howley, Pearson, and Harris) (and I say this as a Redskins fan), and helps franchises like Minnesota who has been very lucky to all of its strongest candidates elected. Is it one player per position? This would seem the best to me, but it still treats over represented positions like QB and RB equally with under represented positions like LB, DB, and WR. I am greatly interested in your thoughts.

        I also assume that the 2/1 alternating split between the seniors and contributors is going to end after this year (the last year of the original five year proposal). There are certainly plenty of contributor candidates (including older candidates like Ole Haugsrud–the only contributor nominated as a senior candidate), but one per year should be sufficient given the overwhelming number of senior candidates. Have you heard anything about how 2020 and beyond will be treated?

        • Pluff
          August 18, 2018
          Reply

          I like the reference to ole haugsrud. He is an anomaly to me in that he was the only contributor selected as a senior candidate. He never got in but there is almost nothing mentioned about him since the start of the new contributor category. I have found his case interesting and often wondered what the story is there if any.
          Rick, if you read this could one of you guys put together an article or “state your case” on ole. Would love to find out more about his case and why he was seen fit to be nominated over so many other seniors as well as other owners/execs of his era.

  9. Jeff
    August 18, 2018
    Reply

    I was really pulling for Robinson or Howley this year. Excellent choice, and it’s nice to see such players get their due while they’re still here (to that end, I’m really hoping the HOF will move on from the experiment with contributors and have two – if not more – senior nominees every year).

  10. Pluff
    August 18, 2018
    Reply

    Robinson was my first choice for nomination this year! Howley, Pearson, mac speedie and gradishar were my runner-ups. Just wanted to say that the senior selection committee has knocked it out of the park every year since I started paying attention to the seniors which was about five years ago. I love reading old player bios and trying to narrow down the long list of deserving players. This easily one of my favorite times of the year and I spend the rest of the year thinking about next year’s nominees. I absolutely do not envy you gentlemen but at the same time would love to be a fly on the wall for your selection meeting.
    I do have a question about the number of candidates though. Was the list of 23 previously narrowed down from a much larger list or is it the case that only 23 seniors had someone go through the effort of actually sending in a letter of nomination? If this question has already been addressed elsewhere I apologize.

  11. Sam M. Goldenberg
    August 19, 2018
    Reply

    Johnny Robinson is a great choice. He is truly deserving. Another great choice picked by the nominating committee. I know its tough to nominate a senior candidate based on his age, but I think it should be taken into consideration along with his credentials. Everyone saw how thrilled 82 year old Jerry Kramer was to be at Canton and participate in all the festivities. I think Maxie Baughn, Roger Brown or Chuck Howley have great credentials and hopefully they have their day soon. Unfortunately, it is too late for Alex Karras, but he was such a dominate force when he played he must be considered as well.

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