Parents and siblings, uncles and cousins, friends and mentors.
After a while, it was too much to count, but for the sake of depicting the scene for his readers The Tuscaloosa NewsI completed an appreciation of two dozen well-wishers at Brian Robinson’s party in Destin, Florida, four months ago.
That’s a lot of punches to the gut, and they all took one Sunday night with the news that the former Hillcrest High star and Alabama running back had been shot multiple times as the victim of an attempted robbery — perhaps a carjacking, though the exact nature his crime is unclear — according to police. The Washington Commanders rookie, who had an impressive preseason and was on the verge of starting in his NFL debut, is in stable condition at a D.C.-area hospital.
Fortunately, his injuries are not life-threatening. After visiting Robinson, Commanders coach Ron Rivera suggested that they are not career threateningeither.
Unfortunately, career threats lurk everywhere for NFL players, and not just in the form of injuries. Police believe the attempted robbery was targeted — read: not random — and while it hasn’t been confirmed that Robinson was targeted because he’s an NFL player, I’d be surprised if that was the case. There have been too many previous examples of professional athletes falling prey to their newfound wealth. From the day they are called, they have to swim in a sea of people who want to separate them from their money in every way.
They are targets of violent crime.
They are targets of fraud.
They are targets of lies and tricks and tricksters.
Hire the wrong agent, you’re a victim. Deal with the wrong investment partner, you are a victim. Lend money to the wrong friend, you’re a victim. And sometimes all it takes to be a victim is a crook with a gun just recognizing who you are.
Former Oakland Raider Phillip Buchanan, one of five Miami Hurricanes selected in the first round in 2002, wrote a chilling, heartbreaking book titled New money detailing all the threats he endured as a result of the NFL’s instant wealth. Not only was Buchanan targeted in a robbery, he was set up by someone he trusted.
It’s no wonder NFL teams employ large security staffs, many of whom have top law enforcement and investigative experience.
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The important thing here is that Robinson will obviously be fine.
Football comes last when it comes to violent crime, but for a kid like Robinson, who endured four years on the Alabama bench to make his NFL dream a reality, it’s not insignificant.
Not to him anyway.
While my first thought when I heard Robinson had been shot was for his well-being, my next thought was all of his loved ones I met while covering his sketch party on April 29, and what they must be going through themselves. And what a shame that the very thing they gathered to celebrate with unbridled joy came with a certain danger to the man of the hour. Robinson is the one who will have to recover physically, but he won’t suffer alone emotionally. The bullets that hit him touched many people.
Everyone is hurting today.
Everyone asks why and how.
They all deserve answers.
And whether Robinson was targeted for being a professional athlete or not, he deserves to pursue his dream without the risks that might come with it.
Contact Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread
This article originally appeared in The Tuscaloosa News: Former Alabama RB Brian Robinson targeted in robbery, and that’s a shame