Michael Robinson gets head start on TV career
Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson isn't just delivering heavy hits on the field. He is also asking his teammates hard-hitting questions on his Web-based show "The Real Robinson Report."
His tough questions have included: Who's the better rapper, Tupac or Biggie? Who has good hair and bad hair on the team? What does a kicker do in his off time? Is that player going to eat his cornbread?
OK, the questions may be less hard-hitting than amusing, but Robinson uses his show to give viewers an exclusive look behind the scenes of sports and entertainment. Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, Knicks center Amare Stoudemire, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and many of Robinson's Seahawks teammates have been guests.
What makes the show unique is that it's produced and hosted by a professional athlete who has a rapport with other athletes.
"On 'The Real Rob Report,' I want to show the guys' personalities," Robinson said. "In football, you don't get to see our faces, as opposed to basketball and baseball, so things like minicamp interviews and locker-room reports give you a way to get to know the guys."
The show achieves its goal by showing locker-room moments such as Cat Daddy dance-offs between teammates Richard "Ringworm" Sherman and Anthony "Gumbo" Hargrove.
"The Real Robinson Report" isn't just a hobby for Robinson, 29. It's his passion and what he wants to do after football. He earned a bachelor's degree in advertising and public relations in three years at Penn State. Two years later, he got a B.A. in journalism and knew he wanted a career in television. When he wasn't on the field, Robinson was getting ready for his on-air future by covering Penn State basketball games on CSTV's "Penn State Primetime."
After being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2006, he decided to use his platform as a player to gain the experience he will need to become a television personality.
"When football is over one day, I didn't want my first experience on camera to be after my career," he said. "So I decided to start my own show and get reps as a rookie."
ESPN senior director of talent development John Sawatsky, who is an expert on interviewing techniques, has worked with dozens of athletes who became television personalities and applauds Robinson's efforts to get on-air experience.
"It's great and gives him a huge advantage," Sawatsky said. "Very few people can do [television] perfectly right out of the box, particularly if you want to do it at a higher level. [Players I worked with] all had to work very hard, in spite of all their talents, once they got to the NFL because the bar is raised so high, and the same goes in television for journalists."
Robinson started "The Rookie Report," which documented his first season with the 49ers, and that evolved into the "The Robinson Report." During the 2011 NFL lockout, Robinson decided to take advantage of his free time by bringing back the show as "The Real Robinson Report." He took his show out of the NFL locker room and interviewed athletes including Revis, Stoudemire, running back Tim Hightower and Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
Robinson, who was signed by the Seahawks as a free agent in 2010, has made the most of coach Pete Carroll's media friendliness. Carroll lets Robinson post his show on the Seahawks' official site on Fridays.
This season, Robinson expanded his show by reporting from the red carpet at the ESPYs, where he interviewed some of his favorite athletes. He spoke with Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Cribbs about his Gucci glitter suit, his goals for kickoff returns and NFL safety regulations.
Robinson said he isn't interested in revealing salacious or gossipy news surrounding professional athletes.
"Mainstream media does enough on that stuff," he said. "Our niche is behind-the-scenes action in the locker room. What we get a lot of the mainstream won't."
Occasionally Robinson will turn the camera on media members who cover the Seahawks.
"Did you guys write anything bad about us after last week? Don't lie to the camera, I'll go to the newspapers," he jokingly asked one media scrum.
Robinson said the toughest part about producing his show is coming up with new ideas, selecting a microphone and figuring out how to get footage to his editor in Arizona, Robinson's offseason home.
He said his favorite players-turned-television personalities are Troy Aikman, Herm Edwards and Eric Mangini.
"Those guys give you the real meat and nuggets, the thorough reporting and in-depth remarks that show they know football," Robinson said. "I'm putting in this work now so maybe one day I could be a color analyst or a studio analyst like them and actually work on the big screen, not just play on it."