Former UT QB Tony Robinson's son to play on father's turf

Josh Cody starts at DE for UT Martin

Josh Cody wears the uniform of his father, former Tennessee quarterback Tony Robinson, when he was age 3.

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Josh Cody wears the uniform of his father, former Tennessee quarterback Tony Robinson, when he was age 3.

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Like a number of players who will suit up in the visitors' locker room at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Josh Cody once dreamed of playing football for the University of Tennessee.

His motivation, however, was more personal than his Skyhawk teammates at UT Martin.

Cody wanted to play in the stadium where his dad had been a star.

A dad he's never met: Tony Robinson.

Cody is a junior defensive end who will be in the starting lineup when the Skyhawks take on the Vols in the 2010 season-opener. Kickoff is 6 p.m. on pay-per-view.

"I always wanted to grow up and play at Tennessee," Cody said in a phone interview.

"I even wrote 'em a letter telling 'em I wanted to come there and play football."

To UT fans, Robinson was the talented quarterback who emerged as a star in the 1984 season. He helped launch the Vols toward the 1985 SEC title before suffering a season-ending injury against Alabama on Oct. 19, 1985.

From there, Robinson's story turns sad.

He was arrested on a drug charge days after the Sugar Bowl win over Miami and has been in and out of jail most of the 25 years since.

To Cody, Robinson is a mythical hero of sorts, one who has always hung just out of reach.

"I talked to him on the phone when I was in sixth grade," Cody said. "He told me he was in Miami and wanted me to come down there.

"After that I never heard from him."

Nor has much of anyone in the UT football family. A feeler was made to bring Robinson back in 2005 for the 20th anniversary celebration of the Sugar Bowl-winning Vols, but it didn't happen. He is believed to be still around his hometown of Tallahassee, Fla.

Cody grew up in St. Louis with his mother, Shapell Rice, and her family. His grandfather, Norbert Cody, a middleweight boxer, was a more tangible athletic hero and role model.

"Our family is real close," Cody said. "We've got each other's backs.

"To be honest, my mom was my mom and my dad. She's a strong woman."

Cody's mom met Robinson in Knoxville when he was back in town following a brief stint with the Washington Redskins during the NFL players strike of 1987.

She made several attempts to get Robinson involved in her son's life but the efforts never amounted to anything.

Rice drives the four hours to Martin for every home game. She and several family members will be in Neyland Stadium on Saturday night.

"I'm so proud of him as a parent," she said Thursday. "I've never had a serious problem with him; not one.

"My son is a very good football player, and (Saturday) it's almost like it's coming full circle.

"To see him play where his dad was 'the' ballplayer."

Cody, a business major, has dreams of being a big-time player at UT Martin's level and eventually getting a shot at the NFL.

He's listed at 6-foot-2, 237 pounds. He picked UT Martin over several other schools that recruited him because the community's slow pace was attractive.

"I didn't need to party to have fun, and I didn't need females to have fun," he said. "I saw they had a family-type atmosphere.

"And another deciding factor was hopefully getting the chance to play Tennessee."

Cody didn't wait until this week to study Tennessee game film. He has a copy of the Vols' 1985 win over No. 1 Auburn, the one that landed his dad on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

He also has one of his dad's old UT jerseys, given to him by Kenneth "B.B." Cooper, his dad's UT teammate who has been a family friend.

"My uncles and my grandpa, they tell me, 'your dad was something else,' " Cody said.

Cody wishes he could have found out what his dad was like first-hand. But he holds no grudge.

"I'm not mad at him," he said. "I understand people go through things.

"Hopefully, in the near future or whenever the time is right I'll get to meet him.

"It's a void in my life."

Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276.

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Comments » 68

jesusvol4 writes:

Welcome to your dad's old turf Cody. Sorry it didn't work out for you to be a Vol. Good luck saturday and may it be a game played in the utmost sportsmanship. Let's play some FOOTBALL! GO VOLS!!!!!!

jimbunch writes:

That was damn sad. Hopefully this young man makes a better future for himself than did his dad.

bigorange61 writes:

The year was 1985. Bo Jackson and Auburn ride into Neyland with the #1 ranking against the unranked Vols. Robinson throws for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jackson has 80 yards on 17 carries.

Tennessee 38, Auburn 20

That's the Tony Robinson I want to remember.

Cash writes:

Hopefully he learned a hard lesson from his biological father. Heard there was another famous Vol QB that ain't much of a father either.

Damn shame.

Hillbilly_Orange writes:

sad story

RespectTradition writes:

Tony Robinson was a fine ball player. If only he had better luck and better decision-making skills. I feel for this kid and I wish him all the success in the world, after Saturday of course.

Go Vols!

iowa_vol writes:

Good luck Cody. Your father was a hell of a ball player and really electrified Neyland Stadium. I wish his life had turned out better. Keep working young man. You seem to have your head screwed on straight.

rogervol writes:

I was at the 85 Auburn game and the Sugar Bowl. What a great year for the Vols and a sad ending for TR.

I can't imagine not wanting to know your kids. It sounds like Josh has his act together nonetheless. Good luck to him in everything he does.

chrisw2967 writes:

Good luck young man.I feel bad for this kid.Sounds like a great kid.

tennrich1 writes:

This really is a sad story,,unfortunately this story is near epidemic proportions in our land...glad Tony's son has overcome not having his dad there...usually they don't....Just no replacement for the dad not being in the home...really, it's what wrong with our society....

lincolncovol writes:

Don't feel sorry for the young man, feel sorry for the "sorry excuse" of a father he has. The young man sounds to have a loving & caring family. He will do just fine. Feel sorry for that other guy, being DAD to my two sons and my other 2 sons ( we don't use the words step or half around here)ther is noooo greater feeling in the world. So young man have a great day in a great stadium in front of the greatest fans on earth. Make your family proud and yourself, maybe one day he will see what he has missed and come around before it's to late.

tennezz writes:

I taped the 1985 Sugar Bowl and still have it. Miami would have won the National Championship if they had won the game...I still cant believe we beat them so bad with Daryl Dickey at quarterback!

keepitreal4vols writes:

Travis Henry and Tony Robinson, the World's WORST Dad. I'm sure there are others but its my award and thats my winner(s).

NeylandWest writes:

Josh, your dad was one of my favorite players when I was a kid. I literally cried the day my mom told me of his arrest.

It sounds like you have things together and a great family supporting you. Keep up the good work and just know I'll be pulling for you to have a good game this Saturday...but not too, good ;)

BigBadVol writes:

in response to bigorange61:

The year was 1985. Bo Jackson and Auburn ride into Neyland with the #1 ranking against the unranked Vols. Robinson throws for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jackson has 80 yards on 17 carries.

Tennessee 38, Auburn 20

That's the Tony Robinson I want to remember.

I was at that game as a student. We stormed the field. A friend of mine still has a piece of the turf. One of my best memories of my time at UT.

PopsinCapetownSA writes:

Come in and give us hell young man. So much that you are a star but we still win. I don't feel bad for you because you don't feel bad for you. Stay on track and have a ball Saturday. Pop$ from Capetown SA.

BigBadVol writes:

in response to bricker865:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Cornelius Bennett was a stud. I met him in Atlanta and I told him I was a UT fan. He said great school. So no, I do not know what you are talking about. Sour grapes.

TKO writes:

All things happen for good reasons. Best wishes young man and blaze your own trail. God luck Saturday.

TommyJack writes:

No TN QB had more talent than TR. Ever. Including you know who.

easye13915 writes:

When Cody's name is mentioned in the pre-game starting line-ups tomorrow, give a round of applause everyone! This kid had over alot of adversity in life and seems to be a straight laced kid! Congrats kid!

TLepage writes:

I wish this young man the best of luck... Unfortunatly, not enough men in our society take on their parental responsibilities..... sad.....

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to TommyJack:

No TN QB had more talent than TR. Ever. Including you know who.

You may be right, but I wish there were more than 7 plays to compare Jerry Colquit with them all.

10volunteers98 writes:

I remember watching Tony Robinson dismantle Auburn and Bo Jackson in 1985.Tennessee won,38-20,and the Vol defense frustrated Bo Jackson so bad that he took himself out of the game.I think it was early in the fourth quarter.Tony Robinson passed for three or four touchdowns,and ran all over the Auburn defense.I still say there is a very good possibility that he was the best quarterback to ever play for the Vols.Best of luck,Cody.Hope you and your dad can get together soon.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to TommyJack:

No TN QB had more talent than TR. Ever. Including you know who.

Jim Bob Cooter hangs his head after reading your post,TJ.

vol88 writes:

As a UT student then, I was at the Bama game in Birmingham the day he went down. It was a horrible moment to be in that atmosphere and have that happen to your QB. But Dickey came in and held it together. Of course, Dale Jones' interception sealed the victory. We talked to several somewhat good-natured Bama fans in the parking lot before the game. They said they couldn't wait to see us afterward. When we got there, the parking lot was crickets and tumbleweeds...not a Bammer around! Randy Owen (of the group Alabama for you youngins) sang the National Anthem. Good memory, though bittersweet for TR. I've often wondered if he didn't get hurt would his life have ended the same way.

Anyway, good luck with the season, Mr. Cody.

gillblog writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

Cornelius Bennett was a stud. I met him in Atlanta and I told him I was a UT fan. He said great school. So no, I do not know what you are talking about. Sour grapes.

Wasn't that the game Bo pulled himself out of so as not to hurt his Heisman chances?
To be honest, I was at the game but the liberal use of libations prior, during, and after the game, clouded my recollection of what went on.

TommyJack writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Jim Bob Cooter hangs his head after reading your post,TJ.

Head high, JBC.

vol88 writes:

in response to gillblog:

Wasn't that the game Bo pulled himself out of so as not to hurt his Heisman chances?
To be honest, I was at the game but the liberal use of libations prior, during, and after the game, clouded my recollection of what went on.

Absolutely it was. The story was that he got hit so hard his helmet cracked. Don't know if that was the truth or not, but I've done my part to spread it over the past 25 (ouch) years.

10ECMATT writes:

I can't help but to wonder how far Tony would have gone today with better standards for players. It would be interesting to see if the whole situation would have been different. Today players still make mistakes.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to jmr68ut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

A memory i still have...Tony was a great player and I apologize as a fan to his son for his after football decisions.
Do better Cody.

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

in response to easye13915:

When Cody's name is mentioned in the pre-game starting line-ups tomorrow, give a round of applause everyone! This kid had over alot of adversity in life and seems to be a straight laced kid! Congrats kid!

Great idea. He'd remember that forever.

I hope Tony reads this article. Too sad.

iowavol writes:

in response to bigorange61:

The year was 1985. Bo Jackson and Auburn ride into Neyland with the #1 ranking against the unranked Vols. Robinson throws for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jackson has 80 yards on 17 carries.

Tennessee 38, Auburn 20

That's the Tony Robinson I want to remember.

agree with you 100%. I was at that game. Awesome performance - Bo was hurting after the game. I remember the Auburn coach saying his team didn't say a word on the bus trip up to Knoxville, they were so afraid of Tennessee in Knoxville. That's what we need to get back, our Neyland Mojo.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to bigorange61:

The year was 1985. Bo Jackson and Auburn ride into Neyland with the #1 ranking against the unranked Vols. Robinson throws for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jackson has 80 yards on 17 carries.

Tennessee 38, Auburn 20

That's the Tony Robinson I want to remember.

I remember that game so well!!

huntined#565710 writes:

Another case of GREAT BALL PLAYER----SORRY DAD!!!

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

Football is fun but being a good dad and good husband is far more important. Unbelievably sad story.

OwensboroVol writes:

If my memory serves me (and at my age there is NO guarantee) that is the game BO Jackson took himself out of the game saying he was hurt. The only thing is no one saw him get hurt. The talk was that he couldn't take anymore vicious hits by the Vols. I was at that game and I will tell you, if I was Bo I would have taken myself out too. Cody, if you can get film of that game please watch it. Your dad was at his very best that day. I wish you could have become a Vol, sounds like your the type of young man that we need.

dlobh writes:

in response to TommyJack:

No TN QB had more talent than TR. Ever. Including you know who.

Agreed, TJ, from the neck down. You know who tops most anybody from the neck up.

Sat in V row 23 for that 85 Auburn game. Also at that Sugar Bowl. My best memories are Jeff Powell and the constant harrassment of ol' Vinny.

I have no memories of Pat O's from the night before.

mloaks#222092 writes:

I was at the Bama win in '82 my sr year at UTK, just before a work shift at the worlds fair.
I think Allitore was QB, but late in the game, Majors put the frosh Tony Robinson in for a play... he dropped back and threw the longest, prettiest bomb I ever saw!!! May have been to Gault... long time ago, and I was pretty lit up.
all around me and myself just starred, awestruct... then, remembering we were beating Bama for the first time in a LONG time, resume hysteria.

abnerPeabody writes:

Drugs and alcohol never hurt anyone.All college students do it.Kids will be kids etc.That's what a lot of you posters say.Maybe it's because you still do those things.I say those things are wrong and lead to nothing but trouble that will follow you the rest of your life.

JohnnyU writes:

Agree with Tommy Jack. I have not seen a UT QB put vertical pressure on the opposing defense like Robinson did. It was awesome to watch. I'm glad to know his son will be playing, I hope the crowd reads this and gives him a good ovation at some point.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to bigorange61:

The year was 1985. Bo Jackson and Auburn ride into Neyland with the #1 ranking against the unranked Vols. Robinson throws for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jackson has 80 yards on 17 carries.

Tennessee 38, Auburn 20

That's the Tony Robinson I want to remember.

Same here bigorange61, that was a great game! I saw every game that year including the Sugar Bowl that had 60,000 Vol Fans there as Neyland West!

I never have seen such a premeditated illegal hit going for the knee, like happen to Tony at Alabubba, it was criminal! But Dickey finished them off and did great in the Sugar Bowl!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

us43137415#376444 writes:

It seems Bamabeacher can't see to get his comments approved.. he apparently has so much animosity towards our school that he has to resort to name-calling, vulgarities, and probably a bad body odor, too.

Let's throw stones at the Bama Glass House. They're such a big target.. as in the "target of an NCAA investigation."...

Alabama has been on probation so much, the NCAA had to open a branch enforcement office in Vance, Alabama just so they could sneak up on 'em... Bama players have broken so many rules, the SEC had to add a new chapter to the rules book called "Bama Boundaries."... Bama players are banned from all statewide auto parts stores.... Every sports agent on the planet has at least one Bama football player on "speed dial."... The rest of the country is still trying to figure out how to spell the word "CHEAT" using the letters A-L-A-B-A-M-A.... Everybody else in the SEC is waiting to find out which forfeited games they will have won, when Bama gets caught again... Ever notice how the color crimson, looks more like the color of BLOOD?...

Anybody else got more?

hueypilot writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

If my memory serves me (and at my age there is NO guarantee) that is the game BO Jackson took himself out of the game saying he was hurt. The only thing is no one saw him get hurt. The talk was that he couldn't take anymore vicious hits by the Vols. I was at that game and I will tell you, if I was Bo I would have taken myself out too. Cody, if you can get film of that game please watch it. Your dad was at his very best that day. I wish you could have become a Vol, sounds like your the type of young man that we need.

There was a point in that game against Auburn when Tony scrambled and put a move on an Auburn defender in the open field that absolutely screwed the guys feet in the ground as Robinson when galloping by.
On the first offensive play by Auburn they tossed to Bo and he got hit by about six orange shirts. In the second half, Bo said "no mas."

I also remember Majors not letting TR throw on third and obvious passing downs late against UCLA, letting them score two TD's and two 2 point converstions in the last few minutes to tie us early in that season.

Tony had as much talent as Jefferson Street Joe Gilliam, both of whom wasted all their talents.

AVOL4EVR2 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

No TN QB had more talent than TR. Ever. Including you know who.

You may be right...I'm not sure, But it was wasted talent!!

gbeejr#1354500 writes:

I remember T-Rob and his Auburn performance. He was incredible. One of my top 5 games I ever watched (never saw so many balloons). He was a great talent that couldn't or wouldn't handle adversity in the right way. I'm sorry to hear that his life is apparently still in disarray.

OrangeBeer writes:

Can someone please tell me where I can see a live stream of UT's game from Seoul, South Korea... I am a service member, and espn3 is blacked out over here... anyone know where to live stream this for soldiers in South Korea?

punkin writes:

in response to vol88:

Absolutely it was. The story was that he got hit so hard his helmet cracked. Don't know if that was the truth or not, but I've done my part to spread it over the past 25 (ouch) years.

Jackson didn't play in the second half. I remember looking at him through binoculars and he didn't even have his shoes on. Wonderful game.

BigOrangeVol writes:

Let's not forget that DT Curt Jarvis from Gardendale was the other jerk that hit TR on the "high-low". And everyone seems to overlook Head Coach Ray Perkins, Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach Joe Kines and DL Coach Mike Dubose who I will always consider culpable as instigators of the Hit Squad that purposefully spent all day trying to injure Altona.

Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer, go to Hell Alabama.

dvsvol writes:

I saw Tony's leg go from about 85 yards away thru binoculars, and even from that distance you could tell it was bad. It was one of those sick feelings you get like when Joe Theisman's leg went. His Auburn game was a total masterpiece. He was the real deal.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to TommyJack:

No TN QB had more talent than TR. Ever. Including you know who.

some truth to that...and even after some of his troubles he played very well for the Redskins during the "scab" season in which they went on to win the super bowl after the "strike" ended...too bad he never got his act more together

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