EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is a transcript of select portions of Dunta Robinson's introduction to the Atlanta media on March 8, 2010.
Owner and CEO Arthur Blank
"What you've seen this offseason is typical of what you'll see every offseason from your football team. After the season is over we spend a lot of time evaluating our coaching staff and our players. We do that no matter how many games we win and I think this is a result of that process. We're committed to getting better ever year. We're committed through free agency or the draft, whatever the case may be. I think the commitment to bringing this young man here to play with us is what we're all about.
"Through last year I was about putting together back-to-back winning seasons; that was important. I'm no longer about back-to-back winning seasons. I'm about rings now. I've moved on from back-to-back winning seasons to rings. I've made that clear to Smitty and Thomas both and to Rich McKay as well. Atlanta supported and applauded what we did last year and it was great but we need to focus now on getting some rings…
"There's a recent column by Jeff Shultz and he talks about one of the qualities important when he looks at folks in professional sports and that is a sense of urgency. I think we're blessed in having a general manager where that's in his veins. He is about urgency. He is about being responsive. He is about taking advantage of opportunities…
"Fundamentally, I should make it clear to everybody – and I think Thomas and Smitty will make it clear as well – is we believe about building our team through the draft. We're not a team that plays really heavily in free agency. We've done it selectively in the past. In 2008 we brought in a great running back in Michael Turner who turned out to be a Pro Bowl player for us. Last year we brought in Tony Gonzalez who will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and this year Dunta, who I think will be an outstanding player for us. We play in free agency selectively. We do it with a lot of thought and we do it with a lot of care…
"What you find in this league as in life in any organization is that people will stay someplace if they have a contract or commitment. The position we've always taken is we want to create an environment where a player wants to be here, not because of the contract, but because we created the right kind of environment… My standard is without a contract would players want to be here, whether they're existing players or players on the outside? It's a credit to our organization that what we would argue the top cornerback available in free agency made only one stop this year. You can argue he doesn't live far from here in Athens, and that's true. But the mere fact he made only one visit I think is a credit to all the people I mentioned before. Dunta, I want to thank you for coming to Atlanta first. I also want to say 'welcome home' to you and your fiancée and you're whole family…
General Manager Thomas Dimitroff
"First of all I want to echo what Arthur said as far as his thank yous to Rich McKay and Nick Polk on the contract negotiation side of things, Mike Smith, our personnel department and Les Snead and on and on… I echo everything you say as far as people helping to make my job a lot easier and better.
"I think before we introduce our new addition to the Falcon family I want to take this opportunity to thank our Owner and CEO Arthur Blank not only for his financial commitment here but even more so in my mind as a general manager – and I'm sure speak for Mike Smith – for his intense drive and competitiveness in putting this team together and helping us and providing us with the resources we need for providing the city of Atlanta a competitive football team.
"We talked last year and our mantra was we wanted to get faster (and) more urgent on defense. We wanted to have a presence on defense and that was going to be our drive going into last year's draft and free agency as well. Here we are, fast forward, and we are looking at an individual in Dunta Robinson that will definitely improve us in the urgency part of the game, the speed part of the game and will help increase our consistency with this football team.
"Dunta Robinson is very fast. He is very aggressive, very physical. He has an uncanny ability, in our mind, to dig the ball out and make plays on the ball. He is very confident and he has – and you will see the way he carries himself – an element of swagger we definitely are looking for on this football team to help this young defense and to help this young secondary. We are really excited about having Dunta help this team move in that direction. That is very important to us."
"I do want to add a little bit of a story here… Let's back track to 2004, the very first time I met Dunta Robinson at South Carolina. We had a workout with him – an individual workout. I was with the Patriots at that time. This kid was out there moving around like you wouldn't believe – smooth, urgent, hips were very fluid, breaking on the ball. I said to the (coach) with me, I whispered to him, 'Man, we have to have this guy on our team.' Unfortunately at that point we weren't able to get him up to New England but I said to the other coach that was with me, 'One day, I somehow think we'll work together.' Here we are, fast forward six years later, and I always thought as we moved into this situation with Atlanta if there were to be one of three defensive backs in this league as far as what we're doing, one of those individuals (and he was a high number in that three) was Dunta Robinson."
Cornerback Dunta Robinson
"Wow. To stand up here in front of this red and black is something I always dreamt about. Growing up in Athens, Ga. this was the first professional football team I wished I could play for. To be here today and that be possible… It's truly a great feeling. I'm home. This is where I need to be and this is where I feel the most comfortable. As I stand before you guys it's truly a blessing. I can't say 'thank you' enough to Mr. Blank, Thomas and the head coach Mike Smith. I'm definitely in a great situation. I want to thank (my family) for coming out… These are the people that stand behind me. We stand like an army together and I just want to thank them for coming up and being a part of this.
"I'm going to continue to say thank you because I'm so happy about this situation. I didn't get the chance in 2004 to come here and play for the Atlanta Falcons but what better chance now? God works in mysterious ways and here I stand before you today and am happy to say I am an Atlanta Falcon and I'm so happy to be a part of this organization.
"I'm looking forward to the upcoming season. I think with the things they have in place on the offensive side of the ball and what they're trying to build as a team offensively and defensively I think we have a chance to do some special things here. Teaming up with John Abraham again, Curtis Lofton, Erik Coleman, Thomas DeCoud – who I think is one of the hardest-hitting safeties I've had the pleasure to watch play – Mike Peterson – who I went up against a few times in Jacksonville – is a born leader, it's great to play with guys like that and also Jonathan Babineaux – a guy who can get pressure up the middle. We have it on the front end, we have it in the middle and I'm that piece I think that can help get it done on the back end. I think it's going to be a great season. I think the future is bright for this program. Like I said earlier, I'm happy to be a part of this.
"I want to thank Bob McNair and the Houston Texans for giving me a chance to start living out my dream back in 2004 when they drafted me out in Houston. They gave me the opportunity. Things didn't work out there and here I stand today as an Atlanta Falcon – I keep saying that because it hasn't clicked yet."
On the deciding factors to come to Atlanta:
"About 12:30 a.m. Friday morning, here I am, watching TV. I got a call from my agent, Jason, and he was running through the list of teams that were a possibility that would probably like to bring me in for a visit. He went through about three teams and he got to the Atlanta Falcons and I told him: 'Stop, don't say anything else. Whatever you have to do to get that done, let's get it done. I'm not interested in the other visits. If they want me there, I want to be there.' They set it up. I was in here on Mr. Blank's private jet and I was sold from that point on."
On differences between schemes in Houston and Atlanta:
"There are a lot of similar things. They like for corners to get up in a guys face, bump and run and make the receiver work at the line of scrimmage. That's something I was used to doing out in Houston. Those things are pretty much the same. As far as differences, there aren't many differences. The scheme is basically the same so this is a situation I think I'll fit right in to."
On following teams' No. 1 receiver:
"I just want to be used in any way. That was the way the Texans wanted to use me. I don't argue about the way I'm used. I just go out there and do what they ask me to do. That's how I look at that situation. Whether it's outside, inside, blitzing, dropping back in coverage… Whatever they ask to do here I just want to make sure I'm ready and I'm willing to do whatever they ask."
On facing Peyton Manning twice a year to facing Drew Brees:
"You lose a lot of sleep when you have to face Peyton twice a year but, in that situation, I come from one great quarterback to another. Being in the same conference as the Super Bowl champions, I've been in that situation before. It's kind of like a déjà vu situation. One thing about Peyton that wowed me was he didn't throw my way much. To know the greatest quarterbacks to play the game respects you was something big for me and giant for my confidence. I went out into every single game playing with a lot of confidence. If Peyton isn't throwing at me, I don't have much to worry about other Sundays.
"I'm excited to bring something new to this team. I don't think you see many cornerbacks play the way I do. I don't know one cornerback that hits the way I do. A lot of guys can cover, a lot of guys can run around but can you hit a 220-pound running back or a 250-pound tight end and make him look at you like 'That little guy didn't just hit me?' That's my style of play and I love it.
"It's going to be fun playing in this conference. I look forward going up against every quarterback in this conference and every receiver in this division."
On studying the Falcons offense and that influencing his decision:
"To come to a team with two, back-to-back winning seasons that came into play. Look at the offensive side of the ball: Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Michael Turner… They have a lot of great players on that side of the ball and now it's about adding other pieces to make everything click. I think, on the defensive side, I'm the piece we can turn the corner with. Those guys definitely came into play when I was making this decision because I come from an explosive offense playing out in Houston. To come from one explosive offense to another one, you know they're going to put up points. You know teams are going to be throwing the ball and you get a chance to make plays on the ball. I was very comfortable when I had to make my decision to be an Atlanta Falcon."
On seeking advice from Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (a former Falcon):
"I didn't seek any advice while I was making the decision but I talked to Matt on numerous occasions and he talked about how it was a first-class organization and how he loved the years he spent in Atlanta. Like I said before, I sat down with these guys going into the draft back in (2004). It's something I would have loved to have done but it didn't work out that way. But now I'm here and we're going to take off running..."
On receivers in the NFC South:
"Trust me, I've had my share of practice. I've gone against Marvin Harrison twice a year for five or six years. Reggie Wayne, I've seen him twice a year every year. Though there are great receivers in this division, I'm used to going against great receivers. I guarded every team's best receiver last season. I've had my experience. I'm actually looking forward to playing against those guys, lining up and getting in their face and just going to battle. It's a great situation for me. I feel wanted here and anytime you feel wanted you're willing to go out there and lay it on the line every Sunday. Facing great receivers brings out the best in me so it's definitely going to be fun."
On practicing against Andre Johnson:
"He's one of the best in the league. But I get that same opportunity here with Roddy White, who I faced back in 2007. I didn't think there were too many receivers at the time behind Andre Johnson and (White) was the second-best wide receiver in the league. I still feel that way. We're going to have a lot of fun in practice. He's going to make me better and I'm definitely going to make him better."
On his community efforts:
"Through the years I've gotten into doing things for my computer. My first thing is I am from Athens, Ga. I grew up and played little league football and we have a few guys in the NFL that came from Athens, Ga. but we never saw those guys much. It's like someone you can't touch so you still don't believe that dream can come true for you. I always told my mom and dad if I ever made it to the NFL I'd come home and start my own little league football team… It just wasn't about having the little league football team. I've seen many great players come from my high school and I shouldn't be the only guy from that high school in the NFL. I think a lot of it has to do with guys not knowing and not believing that they could.
"I started my own little league football teams called the Athens Oilers – we probably need to change that name soon. Besides just playing football I implemented rules. They have to do well in school and they have to turn in progress reports; they have to turn in their report cards. I kind of run it the way high school does. If you have more than one failing grade – I'd like you not to have any – then you can't play football. This starts from age 5 all the way to age 12. It's getting these guys used to doing certain things knowing this is what they have to do if they want to continue go forward. I'm not just looking for the best youth football players I'm looking for guys who want to grow into young men.
"I also have my own foundation, the Dunta Robinson Foundation. It's for underprivileged families in need. Coming to a team where the owner is so into the community is going to be a good thing for me because I know we're on the same page; we have the same passion for people in general and both want to give and do whatever we can to make people feel good. That's very important to me."
On his role as a leader:
"The good thing about this situation is I get to play with two really good young corners in (Brent) Grimes and (Christopher) Owens. I watched Grimes play a little bit last year in the Monday Night Football game out in New Orleans and I remember him jumping… I'd never seen anyone jump that high. I know they have young corners with potential. Hopefully I can come here to make these guys better football players and do whatever I can to help these guys become leaders themselves. I'm not coming in here to step on any toes. I'm coming in here to fit in and help this football team win and bring out the best in the guys on the back end. I think it's going to be a great situation…
Head Coach Mike Smith
On Dunta Robinson's skills:
"I really feel Dunta has the skill set you're looking for in a No. 1 corner. This past season the Texans, as Dunta said, used him as the guy to shadow the No. 1 receiver. That gives us an option here. I think the thing Dunta has is a complete game. We talked about his ability to tackle and that is very important. I think tackling is a lost art in this league and I think it's very important. I think that's the thing that stands out the most in regards to his skill set.
"The other thing is we're a very young group there in the back end. We don't have a whole lot of experience back there. In fact, he and Erik Coleman, six years in the league, will be our most experienced defensive backs. As we were doing our due diligence it was very obvious Dunta is a leader and he'll be counted on that here in Atlanta as well.
"I know the guy likes to practice and anyone who has been out to see knows we practice hard and have fun. I'm looking forward to the DBs and the wide receivers mix it up because I think it will be very lively when we get going in May."