Looking for Number 52 on Saturday

In 1985, Tennessee quarterback Tony Robinson threw for 259 yards and 4 TDs in the Vols’ seismic upset of Number One Auburn and Bo Jackson, 35-20. The next week, Robinson graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. “The Tennessee Waltz: Tony Robinson Buries Auburn” it read. Later that season, Robinson blew out his knee in the win at Alabama, ending his college career. A few months later, he was arrested on cocaine charges and sentenced to a penal farm followed by probation.

Robinson resurfaced, playing for the Washington Redskins in 1987 as a replacement player during the NFL players’ strike – he led the ‘Skins to a Monday Night Football win over Dallas.

It didn’t last for Tony, unfortunately. The phenom from Florida was reportedly in and out of trouble over the years. One report a few years ago had him planning to finish a degree in mechanical engineering after a recent release from jail in Tallahassee.

Those plans never materialized.

Tony flitted in and out of jail, serving 2 years of a 6 year  sentence in Tennessee from 1991 – 1993 on cocaine and forgery charges, and served various 1 year sentences on cocaine charges in Florida between 2002 and 2008.

The latest news I have read indicated he was released from a Florida prison in May 2008.


On Christmas Eve 1988, nearly 20 years before his release, a son was born to Tony Robinson. His name was Josh.

His name is still Josh, but his last name is now Cody.

Josh Cody has never met Tony. He talked to him once on the phone when he was 11 years old, but that’s been the only contact.

“Everybody needs to know where they came from” said Josh recently.


On Saturday, Josh will be on Shields-Watkins field in Neyland Stadium, the same field where Tony threw the football better than most quarterbacks ever had on that hallowed ground. Josh will be wearing Number 52 as a senior defensive end for the UT-Martin Skyhawks.

Josh Cody I can only imagine what Josh Cody will be thinking on Saturday night as he most certainly from time to time will gaze up into the grandstands of the grand old stadium that used to be a home to his biological father.

Will Josh think that Tony might actually be up there watching his son play?

The only thing I know for sure is that as I watch Saturday’s game on my laptop computer, I will be looking for a number 52 on a white jersey. I will wish him well, hoping he has better days after his final game in Neyland Stadium than did his father.

“I want them to know I am there. I want them to know I am my father’s son.” – Josh Cody on playing in Neyland Stadium on Saturday. [nwtntoday.com]

UPDATE: Coincidently (?), 1 hour and 9 minutes after this was posted, a similar story was posted by Mike Strange at GVX.


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3 responses to “Looking for Number 52 on Saturday”

  1. tk says :


  2. tk says :


  3. rockytop78 says :

    Tony Robinson was, in my opinion, the most talented quarterback Tennessee has ever had — and I include Peyton Manning in the universe of talent to consider (as great as he was/is as a pocket passer, Peyton was not a mobile quarterback, whereas T.R. was).

    It still makes me profoundly sad to think of the waste of talent and potential.

    But perhaps T.R. can still be a role model to a son whom he never knew — a model of what NOT to be as a man and as a father. Good luck to Josh Cody.

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