Chiefs Hall of Honor

AFL

Chiefs Hall of Honor Weblog

WHY IS JOHNNY ROBINSON NOT IN THE HALL OF FAME?

05/25/12

Author: admin | Posted on: 05/25/12

Todd Tobias is a football historian from La Mesa, California who has provided the Chiefs Hall of Honor with many photos and information. From time to time, he has graciously agreed to provide features on events and personalities involving the Kansas City Chiefs. He is the author of Charging Through the AFL; Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers Football in the 1960s, and operates a blog called Tales from the American Football League, in which he writes about all things AFL.  You can enjoy his blog and efforts to preserve AFL history at www.talesfromtheamericanfootballleague.com.

There is a feeling amongst fans of the American Football League that players from the AFL get overlooked by the voting committees of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Everyone has their own favorite player that they feel has been shorted in the voting process. Typically fans argue the hardest for a player from their home team. But when the hall of fame becomes a topic of conversation amongst the more unbiased of AFL fans, one name is generally agreed upon by all as the one man most deserving. That player is Johnny Robinson of the Dallas Texans & Kansas City Chiefs.

Johnny Robinson played in the same offensive backfield at LSU as Heisman Trophy winner and Houston Oilers first-round draft choice, Billy Cannon. Robinson was the first round selection of the Dallas Texans in the 1960 AFL Draft, and it was as a running back, sharing the backfield with Abner Haynes, that Robinson spent his first two seasons in professional football. He was a serviceable, if not spectacular back, and rushed for 658 yards and six touchdowns while catching 76 passes for 1,212 yards and nine scores in two years.

Entering into his third year in the league, the Texans moved Johnny Robinson into the defensive backfield, and he quickly made a home for himself at safety. His success was immediate and enduring, and when Robinson retired after the 1971 season, he had made his mark as perhaps the greatest defensive back in AFL history. Take a quick glance at this following list of Johnny Robinson’s accomplishments, and explain to me why this man does not have his name enshrined with the greats of the game in Canton, Ohio.

  • He was a six-time AFL All-Star (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968)
  • He was a six-time First-Team All-AFL/All-Pro selection (1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970)
  • He was a defensive leader on the AFL Champions Texans & Chiefs of 1962, 1966 & 1969
  • He was a defensive leader on the Super Bowl IV champion Chiefs, and recovered a fumble and pulled down an interception in Super Bowl IV despite playing with three broken ribs that he suffered in the AFL Championship Game the week before.
  • He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Time AFL First Team
  • He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Team of the Decade – 1960s
  • He is a member of the Kansas City Chiefs All-Time Team, the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, and the LSU Hall of Fame.

When asked who he believes has been most snubbed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, hall of fame member Lance Alworth told me, “Johnny Robinson of the Chiefs. He was the best defensive back I ever played against. He’s my man.”

There is no such thing as a perfect voting system. There will always be a deserving player somewhere that get overlooked for one reason or another. But when the athlete in question is the caliber of Johnny Robinson, then his exclusion becomes less an issue of circumstance and more an egregious omission. Johnny Robinson deserves to have his bust in Canton, amongst his Chiefs teammates, Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas, Len Dawson, Jan Stenerud, coach Hank Stram and owner Lamar Hunt.

Additional commentary from Todd Tobias [ 07/10/2012 ]:
A comparison of Larry Wilson and Johnny Robinson, to make a point:
Larry Wilson played for the NFL’s Cardinals from 1960 through 1972, a total of 169 games. He made the NFL Pro Bowl 8 times. He had 52 career interceptions and 44 career points. In 1966, he had 10 interceptions. He did a minor amount of punt/kickoff returning, rushing, or receiving. He played in one post-season game, the laughable NFL “Runner-up Bowl”, in 1964. He was inducted to the “pro football” hall of fame in 1978, six years after he retired, one year after he was eligible.
Johnny Robinson played for the AFL’s Texans/Chiefs from 1960 through 1971, a total of 164 games. He was an AFL All-star six times and made the Pro Bowl once, after the leagues merged. He had 57 career interceptions and 108 career points. In 1966, like Wilson, he also had 10 interceptions. He averaged over 13 yards on 24 punt/kickoff returns, had over 600 yards receiving in each of his first two years, and a 4.4 yard rushing average on 150 carries. Unlike Wilson, Robinson saw meaningful post-season action.  He played in three league championship games, his team winning all three. He played in two super bowls, his team going 1 – 1. In Super Bowl IV, playing with three broken ribs, he had an interception and a fumble recovery, helping the Chiefs defense hold that year’s version of “the greatest team in history” to seven points. He was eligible for the hall of fame in 1976.  The NFL-oriented selectors overlooked his accomplishments because he played in the AFL.
Now, Robinson’s a “senior candidate” and although the former selectors may have been replaced, their replacements are too young to remember Johnny.  There are other great American Football League players who were not admitted when they were first eligible because of NFL bias, and now with the backlog of excluded payers and the rule to admit no more than two “seniors” every year, these deserving players will probably never be inducted.  That is, unless the Hall of Fame takes appropriate action.
Several years ago, the Baseball Hall of Fame, recognizing its past affronts to black players, inducted a number of them EN MASSE.  The “pro football’ Hall of Fame should take similar action.  I urge the Hall of Fame to go back and look at the records of Robinson, John Hadl, Charley Hennigan, Daryle Lamonica, Lionel Taylor, Goose Gonsoulin, Ed Budde, Jim Tyrer, Otis Taylor, et. al.  Can it be that NONE of those men deserve induction?  Call a moratorium on the “two seniors per year rule”, look at the AFL as the genesis of modern Professional Football that it really was, and induct EN MASSE all former American Football League players who have been so disgracefully passed over for years. http://www.remembertheafl.com

2 Responses to WHY IS JOHNNY ROBINSON NOT IN THE HALL OF FAME?

  1. Todd Tobias says:

    Thank you, Bob! I will continue sending you photos, articles, etc. I am thrilled at how well the Chiefs recognize their history. Keep up the great work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *