This news has been a long time coming.
On Friday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced that legendary Kansas City Chiefs safety Johnny Robinson is the Seniors Finalist for 2019, which means he could voted into the Hall of Fame this February.
Robinson, 79, opted to sign with the AFL’s Dallas Texans instead of the Detroit Lions after being drafted in the first round of both the AFL and NFL drafts in 1960. He played at halfback during his first two seasons with the Texans, and switched to safety in 1962.
That season, the Texans won the AFL Championship with a thrilling double overtime win against the Houston Oilers — a game in which Robinson had two interceptions. Robinson was still a starting safety for the Chiefs in their next double-overtime playoff game — the Christmas Day loss to the Miami Dolphins in 1971.
That game would prove to be Robinson’s last.
Robinson led the AFL in interceptions in 1966 — the year the Chiefs appeared in Super Bowl I — and the NFL in 1970, becoming the only player to lead both leagues in that category. He was an All-AFL selection six times, played in the NFL Pro Bowl in 1970, and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Time AFL Team.
He was also, of course, a member of the 1969 Chiefs team that won Super Bowl IV. Robinson was one of three Chiefs to snag an interception from the Minnesota Vikings that day. That 1969 team has been described in these pages as a defense for the ages, and Robinson was one of its unquestioned leaders.
All told, Robinson had 57 interceptions in his 12 year professional career. That is still 13th best all-time.
Robinson was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1974.
Along with his teammates Otis Taylor and Ed Budde, Robinson has long been considered as someone the Hall of Fame has overlooked, and there have been active campaigns to get the Seniors Committee to put him up for consideration.
To be elected to the Hall of Fame, Robinson will have to make the list of 15 finalists (including modern-era players) that will be decided on January, and must then receive 80 percent voting support from the entire 48-member Selection Committee when it meets in February.
Robinson now lives in Louisiana, where he runs a home for troubled boys that was profiled by the Kansas City Star’s Vahe Gregorian. Gregorian contacted Robinson when the news was announced.
Johnny Robinson says was "really scared," didn't know if would be good news or bad news when call came. "What can I tell you other than that I'm just thrilled to death." Hopes he can "handle myself like a Hall of Fame football player."— Vahe Gregorian (@vgregorian) August 17, 2018
Full disclosure: Johnny Robinson was one of my heroes when I was growing up. Like the man himself, I am thrilled that this charming Southern gentleman — who was one of the toughest competitors I ever saw wearing red and gold — might finally receive the recognition he so richly deserves.
And he might not be alone.
Here’s to you, Johnny. This little boy from Warrensburg, Missouri couldn’t be happier.