After 12 years playing in the NFL, Toledo native Bryan Robinson is as close to the promised land - otherwise known as the Super Bowl - as he has ever been.
Robinson, a Woodward graduate, anchors the Arizona Cardinals' defense as a starting tackle. The Cardinals host Philadelphia on Sunday in the NFC championship game.
His career has spanned 179 games with five teams and this is the first time he's been on a team that has won a playoff game.
"Just how we did it, this is definitely an awesome feeling," Robinson said by phone after practice earlier this week. "I'm not the only one happy. I have family, friends that are happy for me. We are just trying to go out and seal the deal and I want to do my part."
Robinson, 34, was an all-district selection at Woodward in 1991 and 1992 and still has family living in the area. He signed a two-year contract with the Cardinals last April to give Arizona depth.
When others' injuries and inconsistency propelled the veteran into the lineup, Robinson became part of the Cardinals' resurgence. The team won the NFC West, the first division title for the franchise in 33 years.
"It's been a long time coming for everybody," Robinson said. "It's a really great feeling. For the owners, for the organization and the players who have been here throughout their career."
Robinson, 6-foot-4 and 304 pounds, joined the Cardinals after a three-year stint in Cincinnati, as well as earlier time spent in Miami, Chicago and St. Louis. He has experience playing every defensive line position. Throughout the Cardinals' 9-7 season Robinson became one of the de facto spokesmen of the defense and along the way picked up 20 tackles and a sack.
"I just tried to bring my leadership role that I picked up from the different organizations," Robinson said. "Generally it's a young team, guys kind of look up to you. As a 12-year vet I'm grinding just like everybody else. They can see, here's a guy who's been around, but he doesn't mind working. The way I came through, that was the only way I knew."
After starring at Fresno State, in 1997 Robinson made the Rams as an undrafted free agent. He signed with the Bears the next year and started 82 of 90 games over the next six seasons.
Robinson has only missed games with an injury once in his career and he credits that to a healthy lifestyle.
"Every year after 30 you want to just take care of your body," Robinson said. "My wife has been a great help. She's a vegan, does organic everything, helps me to stay the course. I'll sneak off and go to Taco Bell, but I follow that. It's been a major factor in my being around and playing, not just being on the roster."
For much of the season, some criticized the Cardinals as a one-dimensional, offense-heavy team that couldn't succeed in the Eastern Time Zone. Arizona's defense has responded in the playoffs, with seven interceptions and five sacks in wins over Atlanta and Carolina.
"We're all focused, being called the underdog," Robinson said. "Hearing you can't do this, you can't do that. We can play with anybody in this league."
Said Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley: "It's tough to get noticed on this team when you have so many offensive stars. But I think the defense has finally figured out how to do that. No question, they're the biggest reason we're playing in the NFC championship."
Robinson is being inducted into the Woodward Hall of Fame in April and hopes to bring a Super Bowl ring to show off. First things first on Sunday, though.
"It's no secret we play our best ball when we're at home," Robinson said. "We really feel comfortable playing out here. The guys on the team, on the inside, know we can get it done."
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