By Marie Berberea, Fort Sill CannoneerMarch 20, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. (March 20, 2014) -- While some Soldiers begin their climb toward physical fitness in Basic Combat Training, Spc. Will Robinson, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery had already arrived in peak condition. A former NFL lineman, Robinson said his biggest challenge isn't physical toughness, it's learning how to lead others.
"They made me [platoon guide] so that's kind of interesting. As offensive line we didn't do too much managing, we just did our job and kept going. So it's kind of interesting being the quarterback as you'd say."
Robinson said he wanted to join the military out of high school, but his father encouraged him to get a college degree first. He went to San Diego State University on a football scholarship where his career began.
"[I] got invited to the Combine, got a chance to go there and show my skills and played five or six years."
He played for the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars. When his fellow trainees found out about his past he said he was inundated with questions.
"They always ask how much money did you make in the NFL? They always think you make millions of dollars when you actually don't."
He said he's also asked about Drew Brees and which teams were his favorite to play for. He quickly answered the Saints and the Seahawks, and said he was very happy for his former teammates in the last Super Bowl.
Although he has left the playing field for a training field, he believes his time spent in the NFL prepared him for life in the military.
"I learned teamwork which is the major part. I learned how to work well with others, even if you don't like them you have to work well with them. I learned a hard work ethic; physical toughness because you're going to get beat up, you're going to be sore and you've got to just keep going."
As one of the older Soldiers in BCT, Robinson said there are challenges when dealing with those who have not experienced as much.
"There's always going to be rough spots. People grow up through various experiences so there's always going to be a little banter back and forth, but that's life. When you play football you have to deal with the same kind of thing except you get to hit each other in football."
He said BCT is breaking him away from his football mentality.
"I'm learning to be diplomatic with words."
He is currently joining the Reserve, but said he is quickly changing his mind and hopes to go active-duty.
"I wanted to go in the Reserves because I wanted to be a firefighter and a paramedic, but I got in the Army and I was like I want to be in the Army now," Robinson said. "It reminds me of football. It's a similar lifestyle. You're always on the go, working out, working with your buddies ... it's kind of the same teamwork mentality. I like it."
After BCT, Robinson is going to train to become a combat medic.
"I want to help save lives. I always learned that it takes more power to save a life than to take one. Combat medics get to kick some butt too so it's the best of both worlds."
Robinson said he comes from a military family. His father was a Marine and his brother is currently an infantryman in the Army.
He said his mother was worried about him joining a combat specialty, but is proud he will join her other son and be able to support him on the battlefield.