Never Before, Never Again: The Autobiography of Eddie Robinson

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9780312242244: Never Before, Never Again: The Autobiography of Eddie Robinson

Franklin Roosevelt was America's President when Eddie Robinson coached his first game. Fifty-seven years later, Robison left Grambling as the winningest coach in the history of college football. Initially a coach for a segregated society, Eddie Robinson has helped football transcend race in the America he loves and treasures. Yet institutionalized racial barriers kept Robinson a secret from white America for more than 25 years until Howard Cosell did an ABC special on Grambling in the late 1960s. Outside of the world of sport, white America still barely knows him. In the African-American community, he is very likely the best-known coach in America. He is surely the most beloved.

Never Before, Never Again chronicles Coach Robinson's life and his time at Grambling in vivid detail. He overcame all those things that might have predicted that it was not possible for the son of a sharecropper and a domestic worker to become a success. He got a master's degree, became the president of the American Football Coaches Association, and helping thousands of young boys become outstanding men. More than wins, they may be his greatest legacy.

But as much as Coach Robinson's memoir is about sports, it's a social history history as well. The book is a lens through which readers can see the challeges and turmoil of the civil rights movements from the perspective of a sports figure who worked the playing fields of a black campus while caring deeply about the stakes and outcome of the struggle . This book places the hard-news events of the day in the time frame of the trails of Robinson's Grambling teams of that era. Also included are the thoughts of other coaches (both college and NFL) on Coach Robinson, as well as those of national leaders like Reverend Jesse Jackson, M.J. "Mike" Foster, the governor of Lousiana, and President Clinton.

Never Before, Never Again stands as lasting testimony to the work of a true American hero.

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Review:

Grambling State's Eddie Robinson started coaching college football when FDR was in the White House and didn't stop until Bill Clinton's second term. Along the way, he racked up 408 victories, but his real legacy isn't in the stats. A black man coaching black athletes in the Deep South for 57 seasons, Robinson witnessed and took part in amazing changes in society and in his sport, battling prejudice and hatred to earn respect for himself and opportunity for his players. Never Before, Never Again plays gamely in both those arenas--society and sport--because it has to; for Robinson they are one and the same.

"I never thought that schools like LSU and Alabama would integrate," he can admit, aware that great performances by black athletes competing at those schools played a big part in their integration. Yet, amidst the upheavals of the '60s, he also knew that doing his job wasn't just about coaching football. He learned to harness that anger at the criticism hurled his way from more militant quarters: "I wasn't going to go out and hurt somebody or let one of my own get hurt to disprove that I was an Uncle Tom." Robinson proved his talents year in and year out, winning not just games and championships, but respect and admiration. He also helped change the face of his game in college and beyond, sending more than 200 players to the NFL, including Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams. The candor of Never Before, Never Again is as refreshing as it is revealing; the story itself is pure inspiration. --Jeff Silverman

From the Publisher:

Praise for Coach Eddie Robinson:

"They call me the greatest. I know that the greatest football coach who ever stepped on the field is Coach Eddie Robinson. I have admired what he has done in turning boys into men in addition to becoming the winningest coach in the history of the game. He is a credit to his sport as well as a credit to humanity." --Muhammad Ali

"Nobody has ever done or will do what Eddie Robinson has done for this game. Our profession will never be able to repay Eddie Robinson for what he has done for the country and the profession of football." - Joe Paterno, Penn State University

"Because of what this "great" man (and I never use the term freely because few men can truly qualify) has accomplished in his lifetime every true American who believes in this great nation should be proud to read this story of "The Coach" and his beautiful and wonderful companion of 58 years, Doris. Smile, laugh, even cry, for you will enjoy every minute of the life of "The Greatest American" I have ever known!" - From the Foreword by George M. Steinbrenner, III

"Never Before, Never Again shows why Eddie Robinson has always been a hero in my eyes. Without question, Eddie Robinson is an ambassador for our people, not only African-Americans but all the American people. That's why I have such respect for Coach Robinson." - From the Afterword by Reverend Jesse Jackson

"Coach Eddie Robinson's name alone invokes in me immediate thoughts of his character, his wisdom, his love for student-athletes, and of course, his winning. Eddie Robinson is the epitome of humanity, courage, and patriotism. This book is a treasure for those who want their own life to count, and for the yet-future coaches and athletes who will draw strength and inspiration from a life so giving and well-lived." --Grant Teaff, Executive Director, The American Football Coaches Association

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