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Robinson Is Madden's Eye in the Sky

September 15, 2006|Larry Stewart

John Madden has a high-profile personal spotter working for him in the "NBC Sunday Night Football" booth -- lifelong friend John Robinson, the former USC and Los Angeles Rams coach.

Madden and Robinson have been friends since they were fifth graders at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Daly City, Calif.

Robinson, the Oakland Raiders' backfield coach in 1975 when Madden was the head coach, left the Raiders to become the head coach at USC in 1976.

Now they are working together again.

Robinson, 71, has been out of coaching since his final season at Nevada Las Vegas in 2004.

"He has been active in football all his life," Madden said Thursday, "and we were trying to figure out a way for him to stay in it and do something together. I suggested he come to our games and we could watch film together. Then I thought, 'Why not have him up in the booth?' "

Robinson says he is not a spotter in the traditional sense. Spotters generally help announcers identify such things as who ran the ball and who made the tackle.

"I guess you'd call me a football spotter," Robinson said from his home in Carlsbad. "If, say, I see a team is bringing in a nickel defense, I'll hand John a note."

A nickel defense, used in passing situations, is one with five defensive backs.

Robinson also works for Larry Kahn's Sports USA radio network as a game commentator, but this season he will do only college games.

-- Larry Stewart

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