Former NDSU Bison, NY Giants star Stacy Robinson dead at 50
FARGO -- The last few days have been a bit emotional for former North Dakota State football teammates of Stacy Robinson. Unable to communicate directly with him, they wrote their feelings on a website.
"I've been really proud of our players," said Don Morton, Robinson's coach on the 1983 national championship team. "They've rallied around him the last couple of days."
Robinson was in the final year of a three-year term with the North Dakota State University Alumni Board and was selected to serve another three-year term. A battle with cancer, he told fellow board members, gave him a different perspective on life and that he was going to make NDSU a priority.
He had just undergone a bone marrow transplant for multiple myeloma and recovery was looking good. An appearance at homecoming this fall was on the agenda. But on Tuesday night, his college friends and family were mourning his death at the age of 50.
"So young, such a wonderful man," said former teammate Mike Favor. "An incredible Bison."
He leaves behind a legacy at NDSU that included track and field and a receiver on the '83 title team. In all, he owned three title rings: one with NDSU and two with the New York Giants, who won two Super Bowls in his six years with the team. He went on to work for the NFL for the Players Association including a stint as the Director of Player Development.
Through it all, he didn't lose touch with his former Bison teammates.
"Phone calls, emails, same old Stace," Favor said. "He always wanted to know how you were doing first."
There was a lot of talent on those Bison teams, like former Denver Broncos defensive back Tyrone Braxton. They went after it in practice, Favor said.
"Classic battles," he said. "They were some of the funniest times and some of the most intense work I had ever seen."
Robinson, from St. Paul, Minn., was a second-round draft choice of the Giants in 1984, just a few months after helping NDSU to its title. He played in 43 career games, catching 48 passes for 749 yards and seven touchdowns.
At NDSU, he played in 31 games, catching 88 passes for 1,626 yards and 13 touchdowns. It was also in an era when the Bison operated the run-first veer option offense.
"Anybody who played us one-on-one on him was asking for trouble," said former teammate and running back Chad Stark. "He had everything in balance. And I loved that quote from Gary Barta."
The quote from Barta, now the athletic director at the University of Iowa, was on Robinson's CaringBridge website, Barta relayed the story of him being a "hotshot" quarterback out of high school working out with Robinson in summer workouts. Robinson told Barta to take a five-step drop and throw it as far as he could, which Barta did.
"I threw it as hard as I could ... and under threw you by 10 yards," Barta wrote.
The CaringBridge website said services will be planned in Maryland and Minnesota with details to come.
"He was such a saint," Morton said. "He had so much to offer. He led an exemplary life."
And he was fast. Morton said Robinson was clocked at 4.25 seconds in his pro tryout.
"That was unheard of in those days," Morton said. "You look at that '83 team with Stark and Bentrim and to have that speed at wide receiver just opened up the running game for us."
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy, on his Twitter account, called Robinson "one of the good guys. A great man."
Giants co-owner John Mara said in a statement: "He was a good man who was loved and respected by his teammates and everyone in this organization. His work on behalf of the Players Association was of great benefit to many players."
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.