By Matthew Tabeek
"I’ve always been intrigued with the aspect of coming up with a vision and a plan for your team and what you want it to look like, and then going out and evaluating those guys and bringing those type of players in – and go chase championships."
Anthony Robinson is now in his 10th season as the Atlanta Falcons’ eastern regional scout, but his journey to the NFL was anything but easy. It was one littered with obstacles and life-changing decisions that tested his inner resolve.
Robinson has always loved football – he loved playing it and has always known that he wanted to be a part of the game. “For me, I guess when I realized I was too small and not fast enough to play in the NFL, I knew I wanted to do something in the NFL – whether it was coaching or scouting,” he said.
Things changed in 1998 while Robinson was attending Morgan State University and playing football for the Bears. Robinson’s oldest daughter, Asia, was born and he knew the only way to care for her was to start working full time. That meant hanging up the cleats and leaving school.
“It was tough. I didn’t have an education – I only had a high school education,” Robinson said. “I didn’t finish college and I needed to make good money.”
Living with his father who was in the car business, Robinson started selling cars in Jacksonville, Fla., and Baltimore. Three years later, he was making a decent living – pulling in six figures at one point – but football was always in the back of his mind. He desperately wanted to get back into the game.
It started with a phone call – actually dozens and dozens – to the Baltimore Ravens’ personnel department. Robinson wanted to talk to someone – anyone – about how to break into scouting.
“I used to call Eric DeCosta and leave a message every day,” Robinson said. “Hi, my name is so-and-so, I want to get into scouting, what do I need to do? I’ll come work for free – and finally he got tired of me calling. He didn’t say he did, but I know he did. I treated it like an interview.”
Robinson met DeCosta, now the Ravens’ assistant general manager, and reality set in – again. In short, DeCosta told Robinson that he needed to go back to school, earn his degree, and get back around coaching – oh, and be prepared to take a major pay cut. “I’m pretty sure when I left that he thought, ‘I will never hear from him again,’” Robinson said.
Robinson took DeCosta’s advice to heart. Originally from Tallahassee, Fla., he returned home and enrolled at Florida State and got his degree in sports management. He coached high school football for a season before joining Florida State as a student assistant, coaching the wide receivers for two seasons. He kept in touch with DeCosta the whole time and eventually landed an internship with the Ravens.
“He helped me out,” Robinson said. “I will never forget that.”