Robbins, Rams’ Rookie Tackle, Just a Shadow of Mandarich

Times Staff Writer

Can you image anything more unnerving than playing opposite tackle to Tony Mandarich in college? Asking Zsa Zsa Gabor to step out of the car, maybe?

It’s difficult to gather newspaper headlines when your former tackle partner at Michigan State on any given day is (a) ravaging through supermarket aisles with his now-famous Neanderthal-man hunger and shopping list, (b) challenging the heavyweight champion of the world to a fist fight or (c) holding the Green Bay Packers financial hostage.

Mandarich makes sure everyone knows what Tony Mandarich is all about, especially when it’s all about money. But the Michigan State All-American and first-round pick of the Packers is touted as the most menacing lineman to emerge since Anthony Munoz.

Kevin Robbins is not. Robbins is but a third-round draft pick of the Rams, one who will be fighting for the team’s eighth offensive lineman position. But Robbins does share a bond with Mandarich, having played right tackle at Michigan State last season. Robbins even made honorable-mention All-American, though hardly anyone mentions it.


He will forever be cast in the long shadow of Mandarich. And get this: it doesn’t bother Robbins. He’s not jealous. In fact, he says you can’t buy the kind of publicity Mandarich brought to others at Michigan State.

“I encouraged him,” Robbins said of Mandarich after his first morning workout with the Rams. “He helped me get where I’m at because of all the publicity. He brought a lot of publicity to the whole line.”

Robbins didn’t mind being leftovers to the hundred or so scouts who paraded through Lansing last season to catch a load of Mandarich. Seems a few caught a glimpse of Robbins, too.

“I just have to give it my all, and everything will fall into place, " Robbins said, “just like in college.”


Robbins, who at 286 pounds is a good 30 pounds lighter than Mandarich, says it’s hard not to admire the All-American, despite his antics.

“Even at Michigan State, he was the one,” Robbins said. “When he had his mind set on something he did it.”

And what of this proposed fight with Mike Tyson? Robbins actually thinks Mandarich could go the distance.

“I think he could step in the ring and collect afterwards,” he said.


Enough talk of Mandarich. It’s time for Robbins to get to work.

“I was pretty much ready to get out of Lansing,” he said. “It was hot, humid and boring.”

Ram Notes

The team signed seventh-round pick George Bethune, a linebacker from Alabama, bringing to five the number of draft choices in camp. Ram coaches expected fifth-round cornerback Alfred Jackson for Thursday’s afternoon practice, but his signing was held up. . . . Camp expands beyond rookies today as selected young veterans report, including tailback Gaston Green and receiver Aaron Cox.