Robin Cole was one of the most respected players in the history of one of the most respected professional football organizations in the National Football League, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He earned that respect not just because he was a perennial all-star on the field, but also because he was - and is - an outstanding citizen away from the game.
The only linebacker who was ever drafted in the first round (the 21st overall pick) by longtime Steelers coach Chuck Noll, Cole enjoyed a 12-year career in the NFL that was as distinguished as that he had fashioned at the University of New Mexico.
Cole became a key member of the famed "Steel Curtain" defense that powered Pittsburgh to victory in Super Bowl XIII and XIV. In 1980, Cole was the Steelers' leading tackler in the 31-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams. He retired after the 1988 season.
Arriving at UNM from Compton, Calif., in 1973, the versatile Cole played tight end, deep snapper, defensive end and linebacker, however, it was his prowess on defense that led to third team All-America honors at defensive end in 1976. Other collegiate accolades included first team All-WAC in 1975 and `76 and playing in the East-West Shrine Game (1977).
When he left UNM after the 1976 season, Cole was the school's career leader in tackles (406). He also set a UNM mark with 17 sacks in 1975.
A motivational speaker after his playing days were complete, Cole served on more than a dozen boards in Pittsburgh, including chairperson of the March of Dimes and the Arthritis Foundation. He was also involved in various special projects such as food drives, Easter Seals and a special project to promote the use of automobile seat belts.