Former NFL player killed in limousine crash in Van Zandt County
MABANK, Texas - A former professional football player who founded a halfway house in North Texas was killed Thursday night in a limousine crash.
The deadly crash happened around 10 p.m. on State Highway 198, about five miles north of Mabank in Van Zandt County.
State troopers believe 69-year-old Isiah Robertson Jr. took a turn in the rain too fast in his 2001 Lincoln Limousine. The limo slid off the road and then was hit by oncoming traffic and pushed into another car.
Robertson was taken to the hospital where he later died. The drivers of the other two vehicles suffered only minor injuries.
Robertson played eight seasons for the Los Angeles Rams in the 70s. He played four more seasons for the Buffalo Bills in the early 80s before retiring from the NFL in 1983.
The former NFL player founded a drug treatment program in Mabank called the House of Isaiah, which according to its website, takes a faith-based approach to overcoming drugs and alcohol.
Grand Prairie ISD Athletic Director Gary Bartel's admiration for Robertson started decades ago, but grew after he met him a year ago. It grew even more after Robertson accepted an invitation to speak at the Grand Prairie High School football banquet Thursday night.
“He had an influence on the lives of those kids,” Bartel said. “Matter of fact, he had an influence on the lives of everybody who was there at the banquet.”
It was the last speech Robertson would give. He died in the crash hours later.
Jonathan Peck and his dad run Nate's Seafood in Addison. Peck is among those whose lives that Robertson touched.
“My dad Nate has let him eat for free at Nate's Seafood for as long as he lived,” Peck said. “The day he met me, it was his son's birthday. And he did not go to his son's birthday so he could come up here and meet me and have a conversation with me. That conversation changed my life forever.”
Robertson is not the most famous of former NFL linebackers, but those who knew him say it wasn't fame he was seeking.
“Right now, he's happy. He's in heaven with God,” Bartel said. “And God is telling him right now, 'Well done thy good and faithful servant.’”