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Former Chiefs defensive coordinator Greg Robinson passes away at age 70

Robinson was on head coach Dick Vermeil’s staff from 2001-2003.

Robinson talks with Maslowski Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Former Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Greg Robinson died on Wednesday due to a form of Alzheimer's disease. He was 70 years old.

A native of Los Angeles, California, Robinson played linebacker, center and tight end at Bakersfield College and at the University of The Pacific.

Before joining the Chiefs, Robinson began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of the Pacific from 1975-1976. After his stint with the Tigers, Robinson worked his way up the college ranks with stop-offs at Cal State Fullerton and NC State before being hired by legendary UCLA head coach Terry Donahue as defensive coordinator. UCLA won a bowl game in each of the seven years he led the Bruins defense.

In 1990, Robinson made the jump to the NFL as defensive line coach for the New York Jets under then-defensive coordinator Pete Carroll. After five seasons with the Jets, Robinson left New York in 1995 to join Mike Shanahan's staff on the Denver Broncos as defensive coordinator. In Denver, Robinson found his greatest success as a coach, winning back-to-back Super Bowls (1997-98). In his six seasons with the Broncos, Robinson had a top 10-ranked defense in the NFL three times ( 1996-98).

Robinson worked on former Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil’s staff as defensive coordinator from 2001-03. During this time, the Chiefs had a record of 27-21 (.563), winning the AFC West once and making the playoffs in 2003. Unfortunately, that sole playoff appearance was the infamous no-punt game, in which the Chiefs lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 31-38. Robinson was relieved of his duties following the 2003 season and was replaced by the late Gunther Cunningham before the 2004 season.

After being let go by the Chiefs, Robinson returned to the college ranks in 2004 as defensive coordinator of the Texas Longhorns. His 19th ranked defense helped the Longhorns to an 11-1 record that culminated in a Rose Bowl victory over the Michigan Wolverines.

In 2005, Robinson was hired as the head coach of Syracuse University. He held that position until 2008. His final press conference at Syracuse came after the school upset Notre Dame at home 24-23. While standing at the podium, Robinson read the beloved children’s book, “The Little Engine That Could.”

After Syracuse, Robinson had a two-year stint as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Michigan Wolverines. In 2013, Texas head coach Mack Brown brought Robinson back as a quality control evaluator. But by Week 3, amid a defensive collapse to Bringham Young University, Brown fired then-defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, promoting Robinson to take his place. With Robinson's help, the Longhorns finished the season 8-5, losing to the Oregon Ducks in the Alamo Bowl.

Robinson’s last coaching stop was at San Jose State, where he was defensive coordinator from 2014-15. Robinson retired from coaching following the Spartans’ 27-16 win over Georgia State in the Cure Bowl in 2015.

Robinson’s legacy is that of an eternal optimist who believed in his players' ability to get better. Robinson always saw the potential in his players; he just needed enough time to cultivate ability and bring it out on the field.

Robinson had a passion for football and his players, both on and off the field. The football world lost a good man on Wednesday.


In honor of Greg Robinson’s life, his family is asking for donations to the Los-Angeles based non-profit Homeboy Industries.