Washington Marion Football Coach John Jenkins and Lake Charles Boston's James Kelly saw Eddie Robinson across the field as rivals when they played for Southern University. But what the two will remember about the legendary Grambling coach goes far beyond the gridiron.
"From afar, looking on the other side, he was my enemy. But he was highly admired and respected," Jenkins remembers.
"It was a great experience to meet him, and to see those things he exemplified. As a young, African American coach, you try to exemplify those same things," Kelly says.
They attribute Robinson's success on the football field to the success he emphasized off of it, citing his commitment to education and the 200 players Robinson helped to enter the NFL.
"You see sending all these kids to the league, and nobody's saying how many graduated, and are now coaches, respected citizens, and businessmen. He really did a lot for us," Jenkins says.
Kelly and Jenkins say Robinson's coaching philosophy, based on love of his players and the game, along with a down-to-earth nature make him a perfect role model for a new generation of coaches, working with players in a new age.
"We're in a generation of single parent homes now, where you do not have a lot of male figures in the home, so I've become like Eddie Robinson was," Jenkins says.
"I try to pass on the things I've learned, as far as education, and just to be a good person," Kelly says.