Bradbury Robinson’s name may not be recognizable to casual or even hardcore football fans today, but his influence on the sport has made the game what it continues to be today. In an era where passing rules are amended to protect the quarterback and make things easier for wide receivers it can be difficult to remember that the game once rarely featured a single pass in the game. In fact, it was illegal until Robinson suggested to that be changed.
Robinson, born in Ohio and raised in St. Louis, attended the University of Wisconsin in 1903, with his arrival to the football team was reported to be a sigh of relief. As one unidentified reporter explained at the time, Robinson’s unique athleticism would help the “football eleven” fill a void after losing one of their star players from the year before who had accepted a job as a high school coach for a sum of $500. Wisconsin’s “Cardinal team” (Wisconsin fielded two separate football teams, reminiscent to Varsity and JV or freshmen squads) finished the season with a 6-3-1 record, finishing sixth in the Western Conference (today’s Big Ten). Robinson became a rising figure in the sport with two touchdowns in an 87-0 victory over Beloit (a Division 3 school in Wisconsin today).
“Robinson’s star work seems to show [the] second eleven is not far behind the first,” a newspaper report on the game described. Robinson’s influence on the game was about to change in a much greater way though when President Theodore Roosevelt sought suggestions on how to make the sport of football safer and more enjoyable.
Robinson’s suggestion? The forward pass. … Continue Reading