He's always known only one way to coach, so when Terry Robiskie was named assistant head coach, in addition to his wide receiver coaching duties, last week, he didn't think much of it.
Robiskie's been coaching in the NFL since 1982, accepting a job with the Raiders after his five-year playing career ended. He's served as an interim head coach twice and in 2008 he joined head coach Mike Smith's staff being assembled in Atlanta.
It was only after Robiskie received around 200 phone calls, emails and text messages congratulating him on the promotion that he read the announcement for himself. Once he did that, he was honored to be recognized by Smith as a coach that did it the right way, every day.
"The greatest part of this whole deal for me, when Coach Smith made the announcement on Saturday, somewhere in the first line or so he said it was so deserving because 'Terry Robiskie has played a big part in the wins we've had in the last five or six years,' " Robiskie said this week. "That really hit home for me because that means you're doing something right and you're being appreciated for what you're doing."
To understand why Robiskie earned the promotion, look no further than the group of players Robiskie coaches. In Roddy White and Julio Jones the Falcons may have the best receiving combo in the NFL and White's frequently credited Robiskie for helping him keep the success he found in 2007 going after the coach arrived in '08. Jones is one of the brightest young talents in the league as he enters his third season, and Robiskie has helped create a brotherhood between the two that has helped them both thrive.
The entire wide receiver group that includes Harry Douglas, and last season Drew Davis and Kevin Cone, are a tight bunch that always seems to be having a good time on game day or just a Wednesday. Jones credits Robiskie's attitude for allowing that camaraderie — in addition to talents — to develop.
"He's like a father figure," Jones said. "… He wants you to be the best guy that you can be, the best man." Jones added that Robiskie takes care of his players and while he coaches them fairly, he's still a friend to them.
Robiskie said that approach came from his days as a player for the Raiders. Original Raiders owner Al Davis, Robiskie said, established a philosophy inside the Raiders organization that said the team was a family and you treat them as such. You may coach players hard to mold winners, but they need to be uplifted, too.
"You can have a guy and help him as a player, you can beat him up (verbally) and scream and cuss and fuss, but at the same time you can pat him on the shoulder and tell him you love him," Robiskie said. "You get a little bit more when you do it both ways."
Robiskie's the father of three football-playing sons and one of them, Brian, was a second-round pick by the Browns in 2009 and currently plays for the Lions. The father-son relationship Robiskie used to help raise three successful young men is the type of relationship he tries to establish with every receiver that plays for him.
"That's my relationship with my guys," Robiskie said. "I coach them on the field; I coach them off the field. I'm always involved on both sides of it. I think in today's football, that's what you need to win. You better have a lot of it. Any time I'm involved with a guy, he's in my (meeting) room and I'm coaching him, for me it's father-son. No matter what the situation is, I'm going to tell him what he needs to do to help us win and I'm going to try to tell him what he needs to win in life."
Robiskie's relationship with players extends beyond his own meeting room and that's another reason why Smith wants Robiskie as an assistant coach. Robiskie is a coach with energy and he can sense when a player or a team doesn't have it.
Luckily for the Falcons, they're not giving Robiskie bad vibes. He sees a team with life at practice. He sees players that want to be there and want to compete. Robiskie was on a coaching staff in Oakland that won a Super Bowl so he knows what it takes and he thinks this year could be another year for a run.
"You get a sense somewhere in there, we've got a chance," Robiskie said. "We've got a chance to play with the big boys. We've got a chance to compete. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing. We've got to keep getting better."
Enjoy what you're doing, work hard at it and compete harder are the ideas that got Robiskie where he is today and his coaching expands from his wide receiver group to the entire Falcons squad. It's a good recipe for life; it's definitely a good recipe for winning and it's the only way Robiskie knows.
"I coach with my heart," Robiskie said. "That's where my love comes from. I coach with love and passion. I love and have passion for what I do. That's just how it is."