Ever since he was a kid, Carolina Panthers safety, and former West Virginia Mountaineer Kenny Robinson wanted to tell his mom four words. However, after making some costly mistakes, it took Robinson a bit longer than he had expected to be able to say those words.
In his first two seasons at West Virginia, Robinson looked destined for the NFL. Robinson appeared in 23 games. In those 23 games, he recorded 84 solo tackles, seven interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and finished with a fumble recovery.
Everything seemed to be clicking right with Robinson, including after the 2018 season, being named to the All-Big 12 First Team. This was all until everything about the game he loved came to an abrupt stop.
According to Robinson’s entry in the Player’s Tribune, the former Mountaineer was having someone else complete an assignment for him during spring ball in 2019. Because the assignment was turned in at the same time he was supposed to be at a team meeting, university officials investigated. Sure enough, he was caught for academic dishonesty, and was expelled from the university.
This could not have come at a worse time for Robinson. Back in the fall of 2018, before this incident occurred Robinson found out some very startling news.
That fall, Robinson got a call from his siblings, where they revealed that Robinson’s mother, Danielle Hudson had a stroke. Robinson said he did not know what a stroke was and just wanted her to be able to pull through.
Then, that next February, Robinson’s mother suffered another stroke, this time worrying him even more.
Soon thereafter, Robinson got a phone call no one ever wants to get. It was his mom on the other line and she said, “I have colon cancer.” Immediately, Robinson said he was at a loss for words. He said he wanted to be strong for his mom and did not want to cry on the phone. After he hung up the phone, reality struck.
Robinson said he told himself he was going to take responsibility and put everything on his shoulders, and fully attack his dream of playing in the NFL in order to support his family.
“Put this on me. I’mma take care of Mom. I’mma take care of everybody,” Robinson said in the Players Tribune.
The only problem is a couple of months later he received that expulsion from school and had no way of playing football to get towards the NFL.
The XFL is a football league created to fill the void fans felt in the months following football season. Robinson had no idea what the XFL was, and with his mother wanting him to go back to school, he didn’t know what was next.
Then in 2019, while training to get back to school, Robinson’s trainer gave him the idea of the XFL instead of college.
At first, Robinson was not high on the idea of joining the XFL, after all his mother wanted him to go to college. But as she continued to battle with cancer, and as Robinson’s other six siblings continued to struggle, Robinson knew he had to take a chance.
Robinson took a chance, declaring for the XFL Draft. He was indeed drafted, in the fifth round by the St. Louis Battlehawks. Robinson played five games in 2020, and finished with 21 tackles, two interceptions and a sack. By joining the XFL, the league also agreed to pay for Robinson to pay for him to go back to college and receive his degree.
Robinson said he remembers getting his first game check, and after receiving his first one, he sent money to his mom and said four words.
“I got you, mom.”
Then in April of 2020, Robinson was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. He was the first XFL player to be drafted by an NFL team and looked to solidify his standing.
In 2020, Robinson played for the Panthers, but was unable to make the impact he had dreamed about. He did not start a game and it looked like the future of his football journey was in question.
Then, this season after being placed on the Panthers practice squad, Robinson was just waiting for his opportunity.
Earlier this month that opportunity came. After Panthers punter Joe Charlton was place on injured reserve, it was Robinson who was signed to the active roster. Less than three days later, Robinson was playing in a game against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 17.
With the Panthers down two points in the third quarter, Robinson was put in the game to defend a punt on special teams.
One of Robinson’s teammates was able to block the punt, and Robinson scooped and scored for the Panthers. Although the Panthers did not win this game, Robinson had finally achieved what he wanted.
Since then, Robinson has appeared in just under 69% of his team’s snaps on special teams and has shown everything in life is fragile and can be taken away even when you don’t notice.
And as for scoring the touchdown, you can probably guess what Robinson said afterward — those same four words, I got you, mom.
(Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography)
(Information from Kenny Robinson’s Player’s Tribune Entry)