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Penn State & The NFL: McGloin’s Future is On Field & MRob’s is Off It

by on April 27, 2014 10:00 PM

The 2013 NFL season was certainly memorable for former Penn State quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Michael Robinson. And how.

As an undrafted free agent rookie, McGloin started six games for the Oakland Raiders – throwing for three touchdowns in his starting debut, in a rookie record-setting 28-23 road victory at Houston.

All Robinson did was overcome a life-threatening liver and kidney illness to come back and play for the Seattle Seahawks by midseason.

Then -- as a do-everything fullback, special teams player, team leader and Yoda to Marshawn Lynch -- he  helped the Seahawks to a 43-8 Super Bowl victory over Denver.

All in all, not a bad season for the two charismatic ex-Nittany Lion quarterbacks -- McG in his first year in The League and MRob in his eighth, and quite possibly, his last. Now, both are at the next stages of their careers; McGloin’s on the field as a veteran and Robinson's most likely off the field, probably in television.

“There really isn’t a market for 31-year fullbacks headed into their ninth year in the league,” Robinson said over the weekend. “Economically speaking, I understand that. I’m going to give myself a little time after the draft to let teams see how their rosters shake out. After seeing what happens, I’m probably going to call it a career.”

A football career, that is. Robinson, who has a pair of communications degrees, has been preparing for his post-football future since the day he arrived at Penn State. He’s done work for ESPN; has his own web show, the realrobreport; runs a very cool website; and has done a good bit of good work lately for the NFL Network – with NFL Total Access, NFL A.M. and even a remote in Seattle. And that’s not  to mention a pair of episodes of the longtime CBS soap opera, "The Young and the Restless." The second is slated to air May 19, when he will cross paths with Eric Braeden (Victor) and Sean Carrigan (Stitch). You can watch the first episode here.

“I’m treating my broadcast career as if I am not going to play any more,” Robinson said. “And if I do get a call from a team, then I’m counting that as a bonus.”

A PRYOR TEAMMATE

For McGloin, his football future is now. He performed well enough in 2013 to allow the Raiders to trade away former starter Terrelle Pryor to the Seahawks – Robinson’s old team, ironically enough. McGloin found out about the transaction when everyone else did.

“If that doesn’t stick in the back of your head about how fast things change and how quick guys get bounced around, then I don’t know what does,” McGloin said in a phone call, barely an hour after the trade was announced. “Believe me, I understand it and I definitely don’t take it for granted.

“To be honest with you, I don’t even think about it. It’s not any of my business. I don’t need to waste time even thinking about it. All I need to do is make sure I know where I need to be at this time and that time. I need to know if I’ve got to lift today or if I’ve got to run today or if we have practice today. I need to protect my job.”

McGloin is competing with 11-year veteran Matt Schaub, acquired from Houston in March, and Trent Edwards, who’s had 33 starts for six teams since 2007, if you count this, his second stint with Oakland. Schaub twice guided the Texans to AFC division titles, but in 2013 he threw 14 interceptions in eight starts, and tossed a pick-six in an NFL-record four consecutive games. When Bill O’Brien left Penn State in January to become the Texans’ head coach, Schaub’s days were numbered, as McGloin’s college coach delivered McGloin’s current pro competition.

In 2013, McGloin started six of the seven games in which appeared, with passing games of 197, 260, 255, 245, 297 and 206 yards. He threw eight TDs and eight interceptions. In addition to the game against the Texans, McGloin performed best in a 37-27 shootout against the Jets at MetLife Stadium, completing 18 of 31 passes, with two TDs, in a contest attended by a couple of busloads of fans from Scranton who made the 119-mile trip to see their hometown hero play.

SUPER ENDING

MetLife was special for Robinson as well. That’s where Seattle blew out the Broncos, giving Robinson a potentially Cinderella ending to his football career. In eight pro seasons, Robinson was named to the NFC Pro Bowl, as well as earning Sports Illustrated All-Pro status. He played from 2006-09 with the 49ers, and from 2010-13 with the Seahawks. Appearing mostly as a blocking fullback and special teams grinder, he mustered only 115 career carries. But what says the most about Robinson the player and Robinson the man is this: For five of his NFL seasons, he was named a team captain.

Over the past four years, MRob has run his own charity, the Excel to Excellence Foundation, at a high school in his hometown of Richmond, Va., which teaches and incentivizes freshmen athletes to succeed in the community and the classroom. He recently put his money where his – proper diet – mouth is, closing a deal to franchise a number of Fresh Healthy Vending machines in the Richmond area. In fact, Robinson, his wife Shameka and their children recently moved back there as he surveys his career options.

McGloin was also active in his hometown over the offseason. He promoted, sponsored and hosted a pair of events in Scranton to benefit the non-profit Children's Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania, whose mission is to assess and treat victims of child abuse and neglect. More recently, McGloin spent nine days at former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia’s passing academy in San Diego to hone his game in preparation for team workouts that began last week.

“He reminds me of myself,” Garcia told sfgate.com. “He's a fighter. Not the biggest guy, but he can stand and deliver.”

Now, McGloin is back in Oakland. He learned a lot last season, climbing the depth chart past Matt Flynn and Pryor. He also learned that he is only beginning his career.

“The most important thing for me is that I’m not a rookie any more,” McGloin said. “There’s no more rookie mistakes, there’s no more not knowing how to practice right or knowing what you need to do each and every day in the weight room, and the film room, and on the practice field. Now I know exactly what I have to do. Not saying that I didn’t last year, but rookies make rookie mistakes. That’s gone. There are no more excuses anymore.”

McGloin has only good things to say about Schaub, who has already been tagged as the starter by third-year Raiders coach Dennis Allen, and Edwards.

THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES

“Schaub has been to a couple pro bowls, led the NFL in yardage one year,” McGloin said last Monday. “I mean I’m 24 years old. I’m trying to play in this league for another 12-13 years.

“Obviously they’re doing something right. I’m going to try and milk as much as I can out of them and get as much as I can off of them -- from how they study film to how they take notes and how they make quick decisions in throwing the ball. Why they chose to throw here or why they chose to throw there. Why they made this call and why they made that call. And I’ll try to do everything I can to help myself at the same time.”

That is Robinson’s strategy as well. Only in a new – and different -- direction.

He's still young and restless, in a good way.

As Robinson humbly admits: “I’ve worked hard to prepare myself for the next step.”

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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