|Dad drama inspires Skyhawk DE |
|Posted: Thursday, September 2, 2010 1:24 pm |
|Most players come to Knoxville’s Neyland Stadium looking for a win, but for UT Martin defensive end Josh Cody, the journey means so much more. |
It’s his chance to blur the lines between now and a magical time back in 1985 when a man nicknamed “T-Rob” reigned supreme at Tennessee.
It’s a chance to retrace his father’s actual footsteps, to feel the lights, hear the roar of the fans and wonder if somewhere up there in the crowd sits a stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance to him.
You see Josh has never met his father.
Game day in Knoxville for a Tennessee football player; there is no greater feeling. Through the years, former Tennessee quarterback Tony Robinson often said that it was the sound of the crowd he missed the most.
Though Robinson’s career has long been over, a part of “T-Rob” will play once again when Cody — his son — runs onto that same field in Saturday’s 2010 season opener for Tennessee and The University of Tennessee at Martin.
“I want them to know I am there,” Cody said. “I want them to know I am my father’s son.”
In a way, UTM’s No. 52 is chasing a shadow.
Both a blessing and a curse, it’s a part of him he cannot quite see … nor can he ever forget.
Robinson is among Tenn-essee’s most fabled quarterbacks. He threw for 3,332 yards and 23 touchdowns in his brief UT career, which ended with a knee injury he suffered during the 1985 Alabama game.
Cody has also heard many times about the Tennessee game against No. 1 Auburn and Bo Jackson. Robinson was whimsical as he led the Vols to a 38-20 victory.
In addition to his mother, Shapell Rice, grandfather, and younger sister, Sarah, Cody has grown up supported by a large tight-knit family.
Rice still remembers the days when “T. Rob” was the talk of the town in Knoxville. From the superstar treatment on a first date to a trip to her hometown of St. Louis to meet her parents, the good times are easy to recall. But with that fame came the demons and the drugs that would eventually burn out Robinson’s rising star. And it was a life she wasn’t willing to share.
By the time Josh was born on Christmas Eve 1988, Robinson was on another downward slide, Rice said. Over the years, she continued to send pictures of Josh to Robinson’s mom and also talked to T-Robb himself occasionally.
A single brief phone call when Cody was 11 years old was the only contact he ever had with his father.
“Everybody needs to know where they came from,” Cody said. “Do I have any brothers? Sisters? Those are the kinds of questions you want answered.”
When asked what he would do if he actually met his father after all these years, Josh looked away for a few minutes, his easy smile taking on a more serious look. “I’d give him a hug,” he said simply. “And I’d tell him it’s OK.”
In the end, Tony Robinson’s legacy is much more than football and the turbulent years that followed. Perhaps his real legacy is a young man named Josh, full of promise and potential who refuses to forget that somewhere out there … he has a father.