It’s a tired mantra, and I’m sure Michael Robinson heard some variation of it when the Seahawks released him Friday."It’s not personal. It’s just business." With Robinson gone, the Seahawks save a net of about $2 million. They hope that his production can be matched by the talented, younger and less expensive prospects, Derrick Coleman and Spencer Ware. Adding to the decision, Robinson missed the last two weeks with a virus that could restrict his availability going into the season.
But a player like Robinson is bigger than numbers. He, along with running back Marshawn Lynch, joined the team in 2010. The following year with Hasselback gone, the offense shifted to a hardnosed run-first attack built on the shoulders of a punishing and fearless backfield—Robinson and Lynch.
Even before the emergence of Wilson, Robinson and Lynch gave Seahawks fans reason to cheer. After the 2011 season, both players were selected to the Pro Bowl. As Robinson plowed the way for Lynch’s 12-touchdown and 1204-yard season, the mentality necessary for the ensuing 10-win season was being built. The 2011 Hawks might not have won every Sunday, but the running game did hit a linebacker in the mouth every chance it got.
It takes pride to win. Robinson’s role in the 2011 season laid the groundwork for our current momentum. Last year Robinson was on the field less because the Seahawks diversified their offense, but his swagger carried us into the playoffs. Just look at the video of him on NFL Films "Mic’d Up." The tape is of a young 2 and 2 Seahawks team heading into an away game at Carolina. Before the game Robinson rallies the pregame huddle screaming, "We won’t leave this field without a win." And the entire team—many of whom had never been to a playoff game—nod their heads in belief when they respond, "Amen."
During the game, Robinson whoops and hollers as he squares his shoulders to hit after hit, reveling in the dirty work of a fullback, and cheering the defense on as they close out the critical win.
And Robinson has done more than lead his fellow players. His YouTube show The Real Robinson Report, in which he gives fans an inside look into the banter of the Seahawks’ locker room, has made him a fan favorite. I’m not saying to keep Robinson because he has a YouTube show, but I am recognizing his role in creating a culture of winning. The raucous 12th Man has turned numerous games around for the Hawks, and Robinson helped fuel that atmosphere as much as any player.
Will the 12th man cheer as loud without Robinson? Yes. Will Lynch still to be a dominant running back without his lead? Now that the Seahawks have built a complete offense, probably. But we can’t forget what got us here.
Leadership means doing the right thing in thousands of unseen moments and teaching those around you to do the same. NFL Films and The Real Robinson Report give us a glimpse into what Robinson means to his teammates, but, ultimately, his value can’t be defined. When he tells Marshawn Lynch before a game, "All day, boy. Ima ride with ya all day," and backs it up by putting his helmet into the chest of anyone with the wrong color on, how many extra yards does that get Lynch? I’m not sure, but I think it’s worth the money not to find out.