Former Green Bay Packers and St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals offensive lineman Tootie Robbins has died after contracting the coronavirus, according to USA Today. He was 62 years old. Robbins' niece, Lakeisha King, confirmed the death on social media.
"He contacted COVID and it in return took my uncle's life," Robbins wrote in an email. "But he is in heaven with his mom and dad now. Thank you for remembering my uncle. He is definitely missed." Former teammates went to social media to pay tribute to Robbins. Luis Sharpe, who entered the league at the same time as Robbins in 1982, was Robbins' teammate for 10 seasons and reacted to the news on Facebook.
"My heart is heavy and saddened this evening as I found out James 'Tootie' Robbins passed away today," Sharpe wrote. "Tootie and I broke into the NFL together as draft picks with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982. I send my heart felt condolences and prayers for wife Shaneeta and their son. Rest easy big fella until we see each other again..."
Robbins was a member of the Cardinals from 1982-1991. In 1992, Robbins signed with the Packers, and it was one of the general manager Ron Wolf's first free-agent signings. Robbins was the anchor of a Packers offensive line that was struggling. During his short time in Green Bay, Robbins started 15 games in 1992 and 11 in 1993 before he tore his biceps and ultimately ended his career.
When Robbins went down with the injury, he mentored rookie Earl Dotson who became a top offensive lineman for the Packers. "I came in with Mike Holmgren and things were happening fast," Robbins said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel back in 2015. "When I came to Green Bay, guys like (guard) Ron Hallstrom and (center) James Campen made me feel like it was home. We had a close bond on that team. I know guys had my back and I had theirs. That's the kind of team you want to be on."
Robbins also had a chance to play with two Hall of Famers - Brett Favre and Reggie White. "It was an honor to block for Brett — he made the game fun," Robbins said. "With Brett, you knew what kind of effort you'd get from him every Sunday. So you had to man up and do your job and protect him."