Grambling legend getting worse, wife says

Updated: July 23, 2004, 12:30 PM ET
Associated Press

GRAMBLING, La. -- Eddie Robinson, Grambling State University's football coach for 57 years, is suffering with Alzheimer's, his wife Doris Robinson said.

If I let myself, I could cry. But I don't have time to do that. I never thought I would be the strong one, but I have to be now.
Doris Robinson

"He's pretty bad," Doris Robinson said. "He gets a little bit worse every day. He comes to the table for breakfast, but after that he wants to go right to bed."

During his career at Grambling, which spanned 11 presidents, several wars and the civil rights movement, Robinson won more football games than any other coach had, college or pro -- 408-165-15.

His teams had only eight losing seasons and won 17 conference titles and nine national black college championships.

John Gagliardi of St. John's, Minn., passed Robinson last season and has 414 wins.

Robinson, 85, started showing signs of the disease soon after his retirement from Grambling after the 1997 season, his wife said. The couple went to hospitals in New Orleans, Dallas and Houston trying to find help, she said.

"Eddie Junior and his wife, the four of us would just get in the car and go anywhere trying to get something done," she said. "I don't guess Alzheimer's has done him any worse than it's done anybody else. We're trying to live with it."

The Robinsons could go out to lunch as recently as two months ago, Doris Robinson said. Eddie Robinson can no longer do that.

"If I let myself, I could cry," Doris Robinson said. "But I don't have time to do that. I never thought I would be the strong one, but I have to be now."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press