Jimmy Rodgers was in LA when he got the call that his dad died. The former Husky safety soon boarded a plane and arrived in Portland. Unfortunately, family drama began adding grief to an already egregious situation.
"When my father passed in 2005, coming from a really dysfunctional Irish-Catholic family, all hell broke loose," Rodgers said recently. "There were six of us kids. I was in Portland, and I was really upset. I called Jacque in Seattle. I told him I wasn't going to the funeral."
"Jacque", of course, was former Husky running back Jacque Robinson. The only player in college football history to be MVP of both the Rose and Orange Bowls. And when Jimmy called Jacque, it set into motion a nice little story of true brotherhood among teammates.
The next morning, Jimmy sat in his hotel room when suddenly the phone rang. It was Jacque Robinson, who had driven from Seattle to Portland, and now was calling from the hotel lobby.
"He said, `hey JR2, it's JR1. Get your clothes on, let's go,'" Rodgers said. "I asked what he was talking about. He said to get dressed, we're going to the funeral. I went down to the lobby, and Jacque was there having a martini."
"When he called me the night before I could tell he was having some issues," Robinson said. "The worst mistake you can make is to not go to your dad's funeral. You only get one chance at that. My whole thinking was let me get down there and make sure he does the right thing for himself and his family.
He needed somebody on his shoulder telling him to do the right thing. I needed to get down there to support him and be there for him. Anytime your brother is hurt, you got to be there. That was an easy thing."
Jacque knew Jimmy's family and thus had practical reasons for doing what he did.
"If anything was going down at that funeral, Jimmy would be the one doing it," Robinson said with a hearty laugh. "If he had to punch somebody, it would now be me punching them, so he wouldn't feel bad about doing it."
The funeral itself went smoothly, paying memorial to a man Jacque had met many times.
"Jimmy got his strength from his dad," Robinson said. "His dad was a strong man, and a leader like Jim was. I think that's where Jim got his leadership from. Fathers and sons, that relationship is special."
After the service, Jacque drove Jimmy up to Seattle and invited him to stay with his family for a week.
"Anytime you can spend time with your guy that's always a blessing," Robinson said. "I love Jimmy Rodgers for real, that's my brother. It was a good time. It was all about trying to get his mind off of things."
Robinson cited his playing days at Washington where Rodgers was helpful to him.
"I know a few times I was going through a bunch of sh*t, and one day I thought this sh*t may not be worth it," Robinson said. "But Jimmy gave me words of encouragement and gave me a new perspective on things. Jimmy was a great leader. It was his heart. He wasn't the fastest guy out there. We had a lot of guys who were more talented than him. But he was willing to stick his head in there and do what it took. Playing with a broken arm or broken fingers, it didn't matter."
Rodgers summed up his thoughts on Robinson.
"I'm glad he helped me like he did," Rodgers said. "If there's one guy who is a great teammate, wonderful guy, and funny as hell, it's Jacque."