Nobody covers the NFL quite like Charles Robinson. The Senior NFL reporter for Yahoo has been covering the sport for over two decades. Awful Announcing recently caught up with Robinson to discuss the league, Taylor Swift, Deion Sanders, and an amazing Dennis Rodman story.
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
What has been the biggest surprise?
“It’s got to be the Bears just falling apart. They spent so much of the offseason leaning into building around Justin Fields, getting him on the right track with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. For things to unravel so quickly, I was there Week One, and fans were booing in the second quarter. It’s the lack of patience, the utter lack of adjustments to an offense that clearly is not working for Justin Fields right now.
“If they lose to Denver at home this weekend and are 0-4, and they own Carolina’s pick next year and Carolina could be 0-4. I think it’s realistic that Caleb Williams could get drafted by the Bears and that you could see quite a bit of change again. Matt Eberflus could be in trouble.”
What should we make of the Miami Dolphins’ hot start?
“It reminds me of when Patrick Mahomes took over in his second year under Andy Reid, and you watched that Kansas City offense and said, ‘My God, they built this team in a way that is so perfectly suited for what Mahomes brings to the table.’ Plus, they have a brilliant playcaller. Andy Reid had as much faith as you can have between a quarterback and a coach. I feel like Mike McDaniel has given that to Tua Tagovailoa.
“They go out and sign Terron Armstead to a big deal. The Tyreek Hill move was stunning—not only the assets they gave up but the money. And now, it looks like he was worth it. The only thing I’m hesitant about is that (Tagovailoa) hasn’t really been touched this year. Every quarterback at some point gets drilled, and obviously, we know about the concussions last year. He’s going to get hit hard at some point. I want to see him get up from that and be OK.”
What has been the reaction around the league to Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce?
“It’s funny. I was talking to a GM, and he said, ‘I would be pissed if I was Andy. That’s a distraction.’ It’s a different kind of world when someone on that level becomes a part of your culture. You’re talking about one of the most famous human beings on the planet who had a span of concerts that would change local economies. You had newspapers writing about the economic impact when she comes to your town. Now, she’s connected to Travis Kelce.
“I think it’s amusing. When you look at it from a general manager head coaching standpoint, what you think about is, ‘How distracting is this really going to be?’ Everybody who has been around the league long enough remembers when Tony Romo started dating Jessica Simpson. They went on vacation to Cabo during that (bye week before a playoff loss), and that’s still talked about in Dallas to this day. So, it’s just an added layer of distraction.”
Travis Kelce about to be covered by the media like he never has been in his entire life. TMZ building a shack outside of his house as we speak. ?— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) September 24, 2023
Speaking of Dallas, the Dolphins’ 70-point outburst and Taylor Swift took some of the attention away from the Cowboys’ awful loss to the Cardinals. Is Mike McCarthy’s playcalling working?
“As good as Tony Pollard is, I think they lack a bruising runner. I didn’t think Ezekiel Elliott was a world-beater. But I do think when you get in the red zone or if you need tough yards, you have to have a running back that can wear on a defense. They are missing that now. They need a change-of-pace guy.
“In terms of how he’s calling the game with Dak Prescott. Yeah, it’s different. With Kellen Moore, you did have longer developing plays. You did have things down the field. Those also, though, created opportunities for interceptions and tipped passes. That led to his 15 picks last year. So in a way, they’re accomplishing what they want and cutting down on the turnovers. But the interception he threw in the endzone against the Cardinals, that’s a situation where I think if you had that change-of-pace back, maybe you approach it a little differently.”
Do you think we’ll see Deion Sanders as an NFL coach soon?
“Deion isn’t going anywhere until his sons move on to the NFL. There will be plenty of time — likely this season and next — to get a better idea of how he handles all aspects of coaching. But so far, you can see why NFL teams would be interested, just from the leadership and energy aspect. And I think if Deion posts winning records this season and next, which is probably the timeline that his sons play at Colorado, I could see some NFL interest in him after the 2024 season.”
What is the strangest thing that has happened during your reporting career?
“I had to get some documents from someone, so I went to Los Angeles. I’m at their office, and they’re not there. I’m calling ‘Where are you?’ I flew out here, and at the time, I lived in Chicago. (The source) said, ‘I’m in Las Vegas. I’m with Dennis Rodman. Can you come out to Las Vegas to get this stuff?’
“So I go to Vegas. It’s late, and they’re at some strip club. ‘Just say you’re part of the Rodman party. They’ll let you in.’ I get back to this VIP area. The first thing I see is Dennis walking around with two massive bricks of $1 bills in each hand. They are strippers, and he’s throwing money. This is crazy. What am I doing here? I see the source who said, ‘Hey. How are you doing? Sorry, I had to have come out here. Dennis wanted to take this trip.'”
What happened next?
“So, we went from a strip club to a nightclub to another a strip club. This goes on for hours. In the group we were in, the entourage, there was an engineer from Porsche, a tattoo artist from Hawaii, and an older couple that apparently were from San Antonio that Dennis knew from when he played with the Spurs. I asked the engineer and the tattoo artist: How long have you guys known Dennis? They said, ‘We just met him yesterday.’ You’ve been hanging out with Dennis Rodman for the last 24 hours, and you just met the guy?
“So I (talk) to the older couple, and I notice the woman has this tote bag from the Palms. It is pretty large. She tilts her head for me to look down into the bag. It’s filled with cash, bricks of cash. I’m like, ‘What is that?’ She said, ‘He doesn’t want to keep getting money.’ It was like $200,000. Oh my God, this is crazy.”
How does it get weirder?
“It’s 4 a.m., and the source says, ‘Hey, I got to go back to the hotel room. Will you stay with Dennis? I’m worried about Dennis getting in trouble if he’s left alone.’ The older couple had checked out. It was just (me and) the other two guys he had met the day before. ‘Okay, yeah, I’ll stay.’ I sat there for hours. Finally, they were serving breakfast in the strip club. This is the lowest. I’ve got to go.”
“I stopped by the bathroom on my way out. Dennis is in there, and he’s just standing in the men’s room. There are four or five other guys in there, and he’s railing about George W. Bush. He’s giving a political speech about George W. Bush as our president. I relieve myself at the urinal, listening to this behind me. I get done. Wash my hands. I’m like ‘Dennis, I gotta go. Appreciate it.’ He nods. He keeps giving the speech. I walk back to my hotel.”
Did you get the documents?
“The funniest thing was I didn’t even get the info from the source. They sent me back to Santa Monica, where their assistant gave me all the info a day later.”