With 89 days left until the start of the NFL season, our countdown to the big day, Thursday, Sept. 4, when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks will focus on the the number that represents the number of days remaining … today it’s #89.
We highly recommend “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore Them,” by John Maxymuk. The book, which chronicles every Packers jersey number was published in 2003, so it may be a bit incomplete, but it provides a strong background of information about Packers players and their jersey numbers up to that point in time.
Yesterday, we focused on Ezra Johnson, who was probably the most popular and productive player to wear #90.
Today, we highlight the best Packers player ever to wear #89 – Hall of Famer Dave Robinson.
Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers is the newest Packer to wear #89, taking the number that had been worn for the past seven years by James Jones who moved on to Oakland this past spring as a free agent.
See the list below to see some of the players who have worn #89 … some of the names you may remember are Mark Chmura, Robert Ferguson, and even Aundra Thompson. But there were others who you may not remember - do you remember John Spagnola, Kevin Fitzgerald, or William Harris? No, me either.
But for us longtime Packers fans, we love to remember linebacker Dave Robinson. For those of us lucky enough to remember his playing days, we remember his size and athleticism. We remember him looking like wide receiver in linebackers clothing. He rushed the passer, stuffed the run, while at the same time having the skills to pick off passes deep in the defensive backfield.
At 6-3, 245 pounds, Robinson played 12 years in the NFL, 10 of them in Green Bay. He played his final two years in Washington for the Redskins.
Robinson was a rookie in 1963, but spent his first season on the bench learning from one of the best linebacking corps in all the league.
It wasn’t until 1965 that he stepped in and started contributing for the Packers. In his third year, he posted three of his 27 career interceptions, including one that he returned 87 yards, but didn’t score. In addition to those 27 interceptions, Robinson also had 12 fumble recoveries. During his career, tackles and sacks were not recorded.
Here is how Maxymuk describes Robinson:
With his talent for big plays, Robinson was often the difference between victory or defeat for the Packers. In 1965 the Packers played the Colts in Baltimore in the next-to-last game of the season. At the end of the first half the Packers were leading 14-13, but Colts’ backup quarterback Gary Cuozzo tried a swing pass from the Packrs’ two-yard line. Robinson leaped and tipped the ball to himself and returned it 87 yards to the Colts 10. The Packers scored a touchdown to close the half, up 21-13 rather than down 20-14. That crucial 14-point swing at the end of the half enabled them to go on to win 42-27. The next year, again in the penultimate game in Baltimore, Johnny Unitas was driving the Colts on one o his deadly two-minute drills. He was deep in Packers territory, trying to take the lead, when Willie Davis stripped Unitas of the ball, Robinson fell on the fumble and the Packers clinched a 14-10 win and divisional title.
Robinson’s most famous play, though, was that same year in the title game against Dallas. The Cowboys were down 34-27 and faced a four-and-goal from the Packers’ two. Quarterback Don Meredith rolled out as Robby knocked aside Bob Hayes and sped toward Meredith. Robinson crashed into Meredith’s left side causing the pass he threw to wobble safely into the hands of Packers safety Tom Brown for the ball game … Lombardi later told Robinson that he graded poorly on the play because he had ignored the run, which was his first responsibility.
Robinson was boisterous, bright and a leader. He was the Packers’ player representative, a three-time All Pro, and a three-time Pro Bowler. He remains a Packers fan and a fan of Green Bay. “When I got here, it was the fans. The fact that it was a real family-type atmosphere. We weren’t players on a team. We were just members of the community who happened to play football.”
Robinson’s only regret was that he didn’t play his entire career for the Packers. In one of former head coach Dan Devine’s “brilliant” moves, he traded Robinson to the Washington Redskins where he spent the final two years of his career.
Robinson was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1982 and was selected as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
The following is a complete list of all the Packers players who have worn #89 in the past 50 years. The list is courtesy of Pro Football Reference: