Former Packers tackle Tootie Robbins dies after contracting COVID-19
Former Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Tootie Robbins, a 12-year NFL veteran who was coach Mike Holmgren's starting right tackle for two seasons, has died at the age of 62.
Robbins' niece, Lakeisha King, confirmed what a number of former teammates had posted on social media.
King said Robbins, who lived in Chandler, Arizona, succumbed to COVID-19 early Sunday evening.
"He contacted COVID and it in return took my uncle's life," she 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."
Robbins' former Phoenix Cardinals teammate Luis Sharpe, who entered the league with at the same time in 1982 and played on the same offensive line for 10 season, said in a Facebook post that Robbins' death hit him hard.
“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...”
Former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, whose career overlapped the two-year stay Robbins had in Green Bay, also said in a Twitter post that Robbins had died and said he was well-liked during his two seasons in Green Bay.
Born James Elbert Robbins in Windsor, North Carolina, the 6-5, 303-pound tackle was one of general manager Ron Wolf’s first free-agent signings when he took over the Packers late in the 1991 season.
The Packers’ offensive line was a mess and after Holmgren added former Cardinals offensive line coach Tom Lovat to his first staff in '92, Robbins became an anchor at right tackle. Nearing the end of his career at the time, Robbins added stability and leadership the Packers were sorely lacking.
He started 15 games in ’92 and 11 in ’93 before a torn triceps landed him on injured reserve and effectively ended his career. In 12 seasons, he played in 159 games and started 147. He played in just one playoff game — during his rookie season with the Cardinals — missing the Packers’ two-game run in ’93 because of the injury.
Robbins took then-rookie Earl Dotson under his wing after Dotson was selected in the third round and helped him develop into a top performer who started 88 games, including Super Bowl XXXI.
Robbins had retired in Chandler, Ariz., and said in a Journal Sentinel story in 2015 that his years in Green Bay were a joy.
"I came in with Mike Holmgren and things were happening fast," he said. "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."