Getting 'Real'

Posted Jun 4, 2012

Michael Robinson doesn't just have an idea what he's going to do when his NFL career is over, the Seahawks' Pro Bowl fullback is taking steps now to prepare for it.

Another OTA practice in the books, Michael Robinson beat a hasty retreat to his cubicle in the Seahawks’ locker room.

And the first thing the team’s Pro Bowl fullback reached for? A towel to wipe the sweat from his brow? A large bottle of water? A supplement drink, perhaps?

It was none of the above. The object of Robinson’s desire was his video camera – the one he uses to produce up-close-and-personal features for “The Real Rob Report,” which appear on his website and also are available via YouTube.

“It’s something I would love to spread around the league, so that guys who are interested in life after football – being able to do something like this – they can kind of go through the things I do with ‘The Real Rob Report’ and make it kind of a behind-the-scenes of the National Football League,” Robinson said.

Even though his NFL career continues to peak, Robinson is offering a peek at what he plans to do as a post-career career: Broadcasting.

He will be one of 23 current and former NFL players participating in the sixth annual NFL Broadcast Boot Camp at the NFL Films headquarters in Mt. Laurel, N.J., on June 18-21.

“Absolutely, this is something I want to do,” Robinson said. “If I can’t play the game I definitely want to be able to talk about it, because I feel I have some great insight on it.”

This isn’t something that has just happened the past few months, or even years. Robinson has been planning for his long-term future since he was at Penn State. In December 2004, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising/public relations – in only three years. Because the school did not have sports broadcasting program until his senior year, Robinson got a second degree in journalism a year later.

Robinson’s first on-camera reporting gig was covering Penn State basketball games. From that acorn of an assignment, the tree that is “The Real Rob Report” has blossomed. In 2006, his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers, Robinson started doing “The Rookie Report.” That morphed into “The Real Robinson Report,” which became “The Real Rob Report” last offseason.

As anyone who has seen Robinson’s video reports knows, they are long on personality and short on strategy.

“The fans, they’re really not interested in the X’s and O’s,” he said.

Robinson learned this lesson from what he calls “some of my idols as far as commentators” – John Madden from the NFL and Manuel Stewart from boxing.

“They do a great job of explaining it to a person that’s never even seen the sport,” Robinson said. “A lot of people who watch the game of football, they’re not concerned with a 59 front or Cover 2 defense. They want to see us like this. They want to see personality as part of it.”

Still, having a teammate – and a team captain, at that – point a video camera at you and start asking questions can be a bit unsettling at first.

“It caught me by surprise,” said linebacker Bobby Wagner, the team’s second-round draft choice who is featured on the latest installment of “The Real Rob Report.”

“I didn’t know if it was a joke or if they were playing a prank on me. But he told me what it was, and it was good. And he’s pretty good as an interviewer. You could definitely tell he has some experience doing it.”

Once aware of just what Robinson is up to, his teammates give his efforts two-thumbs up.

“I love it,” second-year cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It’s getting up-close, behind-the-scenes footage that nobody else can get. So it’s very exclusive and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Sherman made a splash on “The Real Rob Report” last season when Robinson taped his locker room dance-off with since-departed defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. But shooting in a NFL locker room calls for some discretion, as well.

“Sometimes you’ve got to edit things out, because people will be walking around here naked,” Sherman said with a laugh. “But it’s fun. It’s good fun. And it shows the fun side of guys, because sometimes people don’t get to see that side of us.”

As proficient – dare we say polished? – as Robinson is, there’s always room for improvement. That’s where the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp comes in.

“Just kind of brush up on some things I know I’m kind of bad at,” Robinson said of his Boot Camp goal. “I’m one of those guys, I tail off at the end of my sentences sometimes. There are some pronunciation things. Sometimes my accent gets in the way. And being able to ask better questions on the spot.”

With that, he was off to shot the latest installment of “The Real Rob Report.”