Eddie Robinson's not complaining much.
Sure, the former Jaguars outside linebacker makes a living in real estate – hardly the easiest way to make a living these days, and certainly tougher than a half decade ago.
But Robinson, a key free agent signing in the Jaguars' early days, said he wasn't the outlandish, risk-taking type in 11 seasons as an NFL player. The key to his success? Working hard, being prepared. And he said in a sense, he takes the same approach in his current occupation:
Be smart. Be patient. Be consistent. Do things the right way.
Take that path, he said, and things tend to work out.
"As long as you're smart, and don't try to sell anything when you don't want to sell, you're OK," he said recently in an interview for this story, the latest in a "Where Are They Now" series scheduled to run periodically on jaguars.com this off-season.
"These days, you have to be more diligent on your deals and really have a good exit strategy. But there are still opportunities to make money. It's harder, and you have to look longer, but it makes it rewarding when you have a good deal that happens for you."
Robinson, who played two seasons – 1996 and 1997 – with the Jaguars, played five more seasons, finishing his career with the Buffalo Bills in 2002.
"My thing was preparation and self-discipline," he said. "Those were two things I put a lot of effort into because I always wanted to be overly prepared for a football game. I think that allowed me to play a little bit above my ability. I also had the self-discipline to work out year-round, stay in shape, eat right. All of those things helped me in all areas of my life, even today."
He moved into real estate while playing, buying his first property in New Orleans after his rookie season. He earned his real estate license while with the Houston Oilers in the early 1990s, and now operates Magnolia Oaks Properties, a company that invests in and manages property in New Orleans and Georgia. Robinson, who resides in Houston, also has a second career of sorts, one he never expected: broadcasting college football for ESPNU.
"That's fun," Robinson said. "It keeps me involved with the game, but not too much."
Robinson, while professional dealing with the media while with the Jaguars, said he never sought media attention or publicity, and never much considered broadcasting as a post-career path. But while living in Atlanta in the early part of last decade, a friend got him involved with Fox Sports.
"It kind of transcended into me doing a couple of football games," Robinson said. "I've been doing it for a while now. I enjoy it. I do a lot of the SWAC conference, which I was a part of, and a couple of ACC games. It's fun. It keeps you involved with the sport.
"A lot of the guys I played with are coaching at those various universities, so you usually know someone with the team in some kind of way."
But Robinson, who said he also spends time coaching his three sons – Jakobi, Jared and Trey -- said his primary business focus these days remains real estate.
"I'm always trying to find a pretty good deal," he said, adding that he tries to stay "pretty hands on" in his approach to managing properties and his business.
"I enjoy it," he said. "It's fun looking at deals, seeing what has potential, and seeing how you can manage it better than the person who had it before you. I think it's a great time to invest in real estate now that the fly-by-night, make-a-quick-buck people are gone. It's a good time to put money into it, take a long-term approach and watch the property value increase at a moderate rate the way it should.
"It's something I always wanted to do. I've kind of learned from other people, and had people help me out along the way."
Robinson, now 41, signed with the Jaguars in February 1996 after four seasons with the Houston Oilers. He was part of a free-agent class that included offensive tackle Leon Searcy and wide receiver Keenan McCardell, a group that keyed the early building process that led to four consecutive post-season appearances from 1996-1999.
"It was a situation where the team kind of came together," said Robinson, who started 15 regular-season games for the 1996 team that rallied from a 4-7 start to qualify for the AFC Championship Game. "It was really a good team atmosphere. It probably wasn't one of the most-talented teams in the history of sports, but I think it shows what a team can accomplish when everyone worked together and got on the same page. That's what happened. We gelled, started playing with confidence and were able to win some games."
Robinson, who missed just one game because of injury in 11 NFL seasons, played with the Jaguars just two seasons before rejoining the Oilers. He played four seasons with that franchise after it moved to Tennessee, then finished his career with the Buffalo Bills in 2002.
The time with the Jaguars, he said remains special.
"I really enjoyed it," Robinson said. "I met some great people there. Even though I only played with Jacksonville two years, I live there seven years. I didn't move until 2003. I still have friends there that I stay in touch with, so I have fond memories of Jacksonville. I think Wayne Weaver is one of the best owners in the NFL. He does a great job and puts a lot of emotion and heart into it.
"You know it's not just a business deal for him. He really cares about it. Players pick up on that."
And while stories of the sometimes-unusual approach of then-Head Coach Tom Coughlin still circulate among former players, Robinson said he even has fond memories in that area.
"Those type of coaches, you don't really appreciate until you're not playing for them anymore," he said, laughing. "While you're going through the madness, you're thinking, 'What's all this about?' Once you win some games, you appreciate the way the coaches work with you.
"It was just a good atmosphere, playing with guys like Clyde Simmons and Keenan McCardell. We were the only professional sports franchise in the city, and guys really gravitated to each other and have stayed in touch with each other. It was really good."