by Don Wassall
As a March 28 article in The Norseman, a website that supports the Minnesota Vikings, accurately noted, “Going into the 2011 season, it was largely wondered whether or not Brian Robison would be able to step in and replace the departed Ray Edwards at defensive end opposite Jared Allen.”
That Robison was not as good a player as Edwards, and that he was only cut out to be a backup in the NFL, was the consensus of media and fan opinion from the day Robison was drafted by the Vikings in the 4th round out of Texas in 2007.
But why? Was it because Edwards was so good? In four seasons as a starting defensive end for the Vikings, Edwards, drafted one season before Robison, averaged 43 combined tackles and 6.5 sacks per season, decent but not great numbers, especially considering he was starting opposite of sackmaster Jared Allen, who was routinely double teamed.
Like Robison, Edwards was drafted in the fourth round, but unlike Robison he was always considered starting material. Was that because Robison was unproductive at Texas? No. Robison was a three-time honorable mention Big 12 defensive end who recorded 181 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 50 quarterback pressures, 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and he even blocked 6 kicks, a school record.
Well then, despite his impressive college career, Robison must somehow be “unathletic” then. No again. His senior season at Texas, Robison finished second in the country in the shot put, and was also among the elite in the nation in the discus.
And at the 2007 NFL Combine, Robison was the most athletic of all the defensive linemen invited that year. Of the six events participants were tested in, he finished first among all linemen in three of them — he had the highest vertical jump at 40.5 inches, the longest broad jump (10 feet 1 inch), and was timed at 6.89 in the three-cone drill. In the 40 yard dash, Robison was the second fastest defensive lineman, running a 4.67; in the 20-yard shuttle his 4.26 was not far behind the best time of 4.18, recorded by Adam Carriker; and he did 27 bench presses, with Carriker again leading the way with 33. (Robison and Carriker were among the very few White linemen invited to the Combine, as that event, as is the case with NFL scouting and organized football in general starting in high school and even before, is always heavily skewed in favor of black players.)
Despite his proven productivity at Texas and despite possessing a rare combination of speed and strength, Robison did not get an opportunity to start until 2011, his fifth season with the Vikings. Edwards meantime had signed a lucrative five-year contract with Atlanta after the 2010 season. As The Norseman reported, there was a lot of apprehension about Robison taking over for Edwards. But the media know-nothings and the bulk of the fans ended up being “surprised” yet again, as the stereotyped “overachiever” did very well in 2011, and dramatically outproduced Edwards:
Robison played 82.7 percent of the Vikings’ 2011 defensive snaps, racking up eight sacks, 13 quarterback hits, and 54 total pressures. By contrast, Edwards finished 2011 in Atlanta with 3.5 sacks, 8.5 QB hits, and 26 pressures. Robison had total 44 tackles and 10 tackles for loss (TFL). Edwards had 33 total tackles and 6.5 TFL.
Here is how Pro Football Focus summarized Robison’s play in ’11: “Last year, Robison ended up playing 936 snaps on defense as he started opposite Allen, more than all but eight other 4-3 defensive ends (Jared Allen, who had to be practically hog-tied and dragged off, led the league with 1044). He wasn’t just taking up space on those snaps either, bringing pressure consistently over the season and holding up against the run, something that had been a concern among his detractors before the season. In 385 snaps run defending, Robison missed just a pair of tackles, posted very similar numbers to Allen, and earned a positive PFF grade over the season, despite the Vikings’ defense feeling the loss of Pat Williams in the interior.
“As a pass rusher, he recorded nine sacks, but 54 total pressures, good for 11th among 4-3 defensive ends, and his 8.4 Pass Rushing Productivity score was good enough to rank 21st, one spot better than Jason Pierre-Paul, and comfortably ahead of the player he replaced.”
Despite how well Robison performed in his first season as a starter, various writers and a portion of the White fans were clamoring for Minnesota to replace Robison with young Everson Griffin, as blacks are routinely assumed to have great athleticism and more “upside” than White players. As was the case with Robison, White football players often languish on the bench for years before getting an opportunity to start. This is what’s become known as being forced to serve a “racial apprenticeship” as White football players are negatively stereotyped as less athletic than black football players, even though that lie has proven to be false time and again. This is especially true on defense, which has become a “black thang” even though Whites who are given opportunities on defense often end up “surprising” because the expectations for them are so low due to institutionalized bias against them in the media, and of course in recruiting and opportunity at the collegiate level, which then carries over into the NFL.
The undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins started only one black player on their famed “No Name Defense.” The NFL had been racially integrated for quite some time by 1972. The thought of an NFL team having an almost all-White defense today is regarded as ludicrous, as Americans have been thoroughly trained to consider blacks as faster and more athletic than Whites even though tens of millions of White kids play football and many are capable of playing every position at the highest level as pros, as they routinely did in an integrated NFL for a number of years until Whites were suddenly and permanently shut out at running back, wide receiver, and defense in general beginning in the mid-1980s.
If racial fairness ever comes to the NFL with its long-entrenched racial Caste System, it will be the current prolonged era of “Whites Need Not Apply” at so many positions that will be seen as ludicrous in retrospect, not the 1972 Dolphins’ almost all-White defense.