Five players from the 1983 Grambling State University football team that played in Robinson Stadium as it opened 30 years ago returning to their alma mater as the stadium was officially renamed the Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium.
“It’s great day for Grambling,” said Robert “Big Bird” Smith, a defensive end from Bogalusa, La., who played for Robinson’s ’83 team.
Robinson, the late legendary GSU football coach that won 408 games was named the most winningest coach for the NCAA Division I universities, coached dozens of players to professional football careers and success in life, including former NFL greats Willie Brown, Buck Buchanan, Willie Davis, Charlie Joiner and Doug Williams, who won the NFL Super Bowl when he quarterbacked the Washington Redskins to success over the Denver Broncos.
“(He) got it all started for Grambling,” said Aaron James, Grambling State’s athletic director.
More than 30 years ago, a lake was drained to build a stadium on campus. Under state policies, the stadium could not be named after someone living, so it was named Robinson Stadium.
Robinson died April 3, 2007, and six years later he received the full name recognition more than 400 people attending the event think he deserved long ago.
Smith and his teammates played their first game on Sept. 3, 1983 against Alcorn State University. They G-Men won 28-0.
“I would have had the first interception in this stadium, but it was called back for roughing the passer,” said Edward “Eddie” Scott, a New Orleans native who played three years under the late Eddie G. Robinson. “I started the first game here in this stadium and I started the last game in the old stadium.”
Smith and Scott were teammates and also played professionally.
Scott played United States Football League for the Louisiana Express in 1984-19985 and for the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL in 1987.
Smith played from the USLA’s Arizona Outlaws and the NFL’s Cowboys and Vikings.
Smith did not plan to speak at Saturday’s pre-game event, but, to surprise his two Grambling State student daughters — Joiyia and Chelsea Smith – he did.
The large crowd roared approval when Smith ended his remarks outside of Gate 2: “Everyone needs to remember these words: We are Grambling.”