Catching up with ... Marcus Robinson

Catching up with ... Marcus Robinson

By Mike Klingaman
The Baltimore Sun

The only Raven ever to score four touchdowns in one game now runs a beauty salon in Illinois. There, amid tidy rows of mirrors, sinks and curling irons, sits Marcus Robinson, 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, making appointments and balancing the books for the family's bustling business.

Let him make one thing clear.

"I don't do hair," the onetime Baltimore wide receiver said. More's the pity. There's magic in those supple hands.

Eight years ago, in a November comeback victory against Seattle, Robinson caught four TD passes — all in the second half — as the Ravens outlasted the favored Seahawks, 44-41 in overtime. Those receptions, of 13, 50, 25 and 9 yards, set a club single-game record.

Robinson's effort juiced the Ravens, then a .500 team, to win five of their last six games in 2003 and take their division before losing to Tennessee in the playoffs.

That's how much mileage they got from the win over Seattle, a game in which they trailed, 41-24 in the fourth quarter. The contest still ranks as the second biggest rally in Ravens' history.

"It was one of those games that it was just fun to be in," said Robinson, 36. "In the second half, it seemed like we just kept trading scores. No sooner did the offense come off the field, sit down and take a drink, than it was time to go back out."

He caught seven passes that day, all from Anthony Wright, the Ravens' third-string quarterback — and the only healthy one — who was making his second start for the club. By chance, Wright and Robinson had played together in college, at South Carolina, and knew each other's strengths.

"I remember that, in the huddle, Anthony whispered, 'I'm gonna need you, Marcus,'" the receiver said.

And Robinson replied, "I've got you."

The game was the high point of both their careers. A free agent who'd signed with Baltimore after five years with the Chicago Bears, Robinson had done little to that point for the run-happy Ravens, who ranked last in the NFL in passing.

In the dressing room afterward, coach Brian Billick sidled over and asked, "Marcus, where have you been (all season)?"

And Robinson replied, 'Well, coach, you've been giving the ball to Jamal (Lewis) all year."

For his play that day, Wright was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. That award still nags at Robinson, who uses it to tease Wright, whom he calls "Tight Tight" because "he always wore tight pants in college."

"I think Tight Tight got (the honor) because his wife had a baby right after the game," he said. "Every time I see him, I say, 'Man, I'm the guy who had to catch all four of those balls, and two of them were rainbows.'"

Wright, he said, just laughs.

One year after he joined the Ravens, Robinson was gone. In March, 2004, learning that Baltimore was courting Terrell Owens of the San Francisco 49ers, Robinson left town and signed with Minnesota. Except that the Owens deal fell through.

"I would like to have stayed with the Ravens," said Robinson, who ended his career with the Vikings in 2006. "I loved the team, the camaraderie. Guys would sit in the hot tub, after workouts, or hang around in the parking lot, by their cars, and talk about their families and life, in general. There was no hurry to go your separate ways. You can't beat that."

Married and the father of two, Robinson lives in West Dundee, Ill. Besides the hair salon, he owns Bigtime Sports, a personal training company that serves both teens and adults. There, he puts his charges through a regimen of football fitness routines, everything from pulling sleds to ladder drills.

"Most of the adults are women, from 21 to 60," he said. "Sometimes I have the ladies do blocking and dummy drills. They'll line up, run curls and slants, and I'll throw to them.

"My ladies catch the ball very well in their hands. You'd think they'd hug the ball, but they say they don't like it hitting them in the chest. I tell them that they catch better than some of the high school boys that I've been training."