The 1969 Kansas City Chiefs are about to have their fifth member enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in defensive tackle Curley Culp. If there is a sixth it will probably be safety Johnny Robinson. There are those who believe that Robinson should have gotten the call to the hall long ago.
Robinson joined the Chiefs as a halfback out of Louisiana State University in 1960 when they were the Dallas Texans. This was the initial season of the new American Football League which was founded by Texans owner Lamar Hunt. Despite the fact that no one knew if the new league would make it, Robinson signed with the Texans and ended up as one of 17 men who played during the AFL’s entire existence from 1960 to 1969. Along the way, he would earn a place on the league’s all-time team.
After two seasons at halfback, Robinson was moved to defensive safety in 1962. That season, the Texans won their first AFL championship by defeating the two-time defending champion Houston Oilers. After the season, to the surprise of Robinson and every member of the team, the Texans packed up and moved to Kansas City. This may have hampered the franchise’s development as they did not win another AFL championship until 1966. That season, Kansas City defeated another two-time defending league champion in the Buffalo Bills 31-7. The big play of the game was a late first half interception by Robinson which denied Buffalo a touchdown.
With the victory, Kansas City made football history by representing the AFL against the NFL’s Green Bay Packers in the first Super Bowl. The Chiefs were soundly beaten by Green Bay 35-10. Three years later, Kansas City would return to the big game. In the last Super Bowl played between AFL and NFL teams, the Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 as the defense had a big day and shut down the Minnesota offense. Robinson contributed with a fumble recovery and an interception while playing with a painful rib injury.
By 1971, Robinson was coming to the end of a career which would see him selected to the Pro Bowl seven times. He was also a six time All-Pro. Robinson played on three AFL champions with the Texans/Chiefs and participated in two Super Bowls. He finished his career with 57 interceptions.
Along with defensive end Jerry Mays, Robinson was the only link on defense to the Chiefs championship team of 1962 and their Super Bowl winning team of 1969. He played during the years when the franchise battled the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys for fan support in the early 1960’s. He played during the early years in Kansas City when the Chiefs were trying to build a fan base. He played when the Chiefs were an established power and one of the best teams in football with a defense as good as any.
Johnny Robinson was the linchpin that kept the secondary together the entire time. He was one of the best to ever play the game and deserves consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.