This week I paid my respects to Coach Eddie Robinson in the true photog tradition, by covering his memorial service. Monday found me visiting the State Capitol as Coach Rob made his trip to lie in state.
It was one of the most powerful moments I have ever witnessed. Many of his former players were there for the ceremony, and they handed a football from one to another along a line that streched from the doors of the Senate chamber, to the seal in the center of the rotunda, and back, before handing it to his widow, who placed it in the casket with him. Then the band, set up at the other end of the rotunda, near the House Chamber, began to play the Grambling State University alma mater, and nearly everyone in the room began to sing. The players and coaches held one hand aloft, with their index finger extended. Truly a shooter's dream; rich, powerful visuals accomanied by great sound. As the alma mater wound down, the band transitioned smoothly into the GSU fight song, sung with such love, devotion, and energy that a person couldn't help getting swept along in the tide of emotion flooding through the room. I'm getting choked up, even now.
I don't know a lot about Coach Rob. I truly regret that I didn't get to meet him, because I know it would have been one of those moments of being in the presence of true greatness. A humble man whose goal was to lead every young man in his care to be someone he could allow to marry his daughter, and to realize they could take charge of their lives and become whatever they wanted. Some became professional football players, but many became doctors, lawyers, and professionals in many fields other than the gridiron on which they played.
That's one of the great benefits of this job. I may not have ever met the man in life, but I have come to know him through the lives that he has changed. Thank you, Coach Rob.