The value of a life, in retrospect, can never be reduced to an inventory of accomplishments, especially for those closest to the individual who is lost. Especially at such a young age. But that is the reality facing the family and friends of Adrian Robinson, Jr., a former NFL player, including for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but more importantly, a father, son, and so much more to those who knew him.
A former college standout at Temple University, the Steelers gave him his chance during the 2012 season, signing him as an undrafted rookie to play outside linebacker.
The 6’1”, 250-pounder made an impression during his rookie camp, and he continued to perform well into the preseason. Although he never managed to notch that elusive sack, the coaching staff saw a lot that they liked in the young pass rusher.
They liked him so much, in fact, that they force-fed him special teams duties, despite his lack of experience doing so and his marginal performance in that area. As the preseason wore on, it was clear that the Steelers were trying to convince themselves to keep him.
And they did. He was the rare fifth true outside linebacker on the roster, and he was active for 12 games during his rookie season, contributing on special teams. Although, in truth, he didn’t perform very well in that area, if I recall correctly.
Even though he did not get an opportunity to contribute on defense during his rookie season with the Steelers, it seemed as though he may have had a future heading into the 2013 season. Although he continued to play well in the preseason, however, his roster spot became increasingly uncertain.
The front office realized this, while simultaneously noticing a hole in their running back depth chart, so after two preseason games, they traded him to the Eagles for a veteran running back. He didn’t make the team, but he was signed by the Broncos, and he spent the year bouncing around before failing to find a team this past season.
Robinson may not have made the impact on the field that many hoped for, but he did have an impact on many fans. Everybody likes an underdog, and in Pittsburgh, there’s a special place in the hearts of many fans for the hardnosed undrafted outside linebacker.
Over the past two seasons, we have seen Alan Baxter and Howard Jones become quick fan favorites, and both of them managed to at least make the practice squad, although Baxter was later released.
Jones, in his second season, is now hoping to accomplish what Robinson did before him: make the 53-man roster. And although he is facing long odds in doing so, you know he will be a fan favorite if he does.
There’s a certain type of fan that will always remember the Adrian Robinsons of Steelers history. I am one of them. Heck, Patrick Bailey still has his fans among Steelers Nation. But let’s just take this time to remember that there was so much more to his life that we never got to see, which was of immense value to those who knew him.