I was recently introduced to retired NFL Champion Fred Robbins by one of my loyal Instagram followers – Steve Bingham @bigbluecigarguy. Steve is a huge NY Giants fan and suggested I connect with Fred, who was part of the Super Bowl XLII championship Giants team. Now of course, that game is cemented in my amygdala brain cells, a memory I will never forget, as the Giants put the death blow to my New England Patriots perfect season, making all the Miami Dolphin fans happy.
Memory aside, I agreed it would be a fun interview (see the full recorded interview below). We finally settled on a date, and I took the 7 hour drive to Pensacola, Florida to meet Fred. We settled on meeting at Cordova Cigars in Pensacola, a rather large cigar emporium, which I will have a review of in the near future.
As I entered the shop, Fred was seated at the bar and stood up to greet me. A tall stocky man that has a distinct north Florida drawl when he speaks, Fred grew up in Pensacola, and even though he made millions in the NFL, he is a laid back, soft spoken man, with a chortle laugh. If you did not know who he was, you would see him as an average Joe enjoying cigars and beer. Ah, the beauty of the cigar shop culture!
I learned during the interview that Fred came from a loving and humble family. His mother and father were both teachers and stressed the importance of education. He was raised in a neighborhood in Pensacola where his aunts and uncles resided on the same street and the family unit was tight.
Fred was born in 1977, about the same time I started enjoying my first taste of cigars. He had an older sister who watched out for him growing up. As a graduate of J.M. Tate High School he double lettered in both football and baseball. As a football player, he was selected as “All-City” and also “All-Northwest Florida”. After high school he was recruited by Wake Forest University where he majored in sociology and played Defensive Tackle (DT). He notes that his selection of Wake Forest was centered on the strong academic program and the fact that he could play both football and baseball. Once there, he quickly learned how life works and was only allowed to play football, which in the end, turned out just fine for him.
He was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2nd round of the NFL draft in the year 2000 and embarked on a long 12-year career with the NFL, signing an initial four-year $5.5 million contract. After the Vikings he was picked up by the NY Giants for a six-year $20 million contract and that led to an amazing run including winning the aforementioned Super Bowl XLII.
After the Giants, he was picked up by the St. Louis Rams but after two years he had to retire due to micro-fractures in his hands. Along the way he met his wife Tia, which, in of itself, is a fun part of the interview below. The couple have two sons Tre and Troi. In his retirement, Fred and Tia set up a charitable foundation known as Mr. Robbins Neighborhood, that helps and steers disadvantaged youth in the Pensacola area to find a better way. He also dresses as Santa Claus, or as he says “Fred Claus”, and with the help of local students dressed as elves, they give out gifts to many of the children he has come to know.
Fred has been smoking cigars since celebrating the Aloha Bowl victory with Wake Forest on Christmas day, 1999. He continues to enjoy the cigar lifestyle today, and though he can be found in local lounges in the north Florida area, he has his own “Man-Cave” at home, where he can relax and enjoy the moment whenever he wants.
To learn more about Fred Robbins, check out the full interview below that takes you from his early life to current times. It is entertaining and informative. I would like to thank Fred for taking the time to sit with me and also Steve Bingham for helping to set this up. Now go fire up a cigar, grab a drink, sit back, and enjoy the show.