Monday through Saturday, Robert Fabien is a loving father of three, devoted fiancé, and owner of an up-start security company. He’s like most thirty-something guys spending time with family and making ends meet. He’s even studying to become a full time law enforcement agent.
But as soon as he wakes up on Sunday for the past 10 years in spring, this 6’4” 280 pounder, known as “Big Rob” has dominated opposing defensive lineman playing a brand of football with no pads, no help, and no mercy.
The A7FL is littered with skill position stars that dazzle with speed and athleticism. These players grab most of the attention. Rob’s highlights are not for that casual fan attracted to flashy highlights like a cat to a laser pointer. Rob’s game is for the die-hard, blue-collar, film watcher that can appreciate the elite combination of power and grace of a clean pancake block and would more likely watch American Gladiators than American Idol. Rob Fabien’s game is brute masculinity, refined technique, and sheer grit.
Giving offensive lineman credit is becoming more popular since “The Blind Side” was released in 2009, but it’s still rare to hear the praises of one of the big guys. Without stats to point to or highlights to watch, it’s hard to stand out as a lineman.
But as the anchor for offensive lines in front of top A7FL backs like Daryl Virgies, Donnel Hubert Jr. and Courage Mozie, Rob has paved the way for some of the best offensive seasons in A7FL history, including blocking his way to the 2016 A7FL Championship. His accomplishments and reputation in the league speak volumes. Especially to me, one of the guys Rob has protected.
I sat down with Rob to discuss his past, his interesting offseason, and his immediate future.
Q: It’s been a while. When and where did you get your start in this league?
A: In 2009, I started with The Disciples but then we became Riot Squad. We were pretty good. Then most of us joined up with BIC in 2011.
Q: In 7 v. 7 there’s only two or three lineman blocking. Is that easier or harder than traditional 11 v. 11?
A: Harder. There’s no double teams or zone blocking. You have a guy in front of you and you have to beat him. It’s simpler than 11 v. 11. There’s no schemes or reads, but you’re out there on an island and if you get beat, everyone sees it.
Q: You don’t get beat though. You’re a true lineman so I think I know the answer, but I like to ask guys do you prefer run blocking or pass blocking?
A: Run blocking. It’s more fun. And its nasty in the trenches. But believe it or not, I’ve made some good friends while blocking them.
Q: Why after 10 seasons and a championship do you still play?
A: I truly love the game and for those few hours a Sunday, nothing else matters but me vs. the other guy.
Q: Last question, after 8 successful years with BIC, the team from your hometown of Trenton, why sign with The U? Why now?
A: It has been 10 years playing and I don’t know how much time I have left. I have some guys over there I promised to play with before calling it quits and this is it for me.
Q: You’re done after 2019? This is your last A7FL season?
A: Yea. I’ve done everything I could do. I came into the league a kid looking to keep the dream alive and after all this time and a championship, there’s nothing else left to do other than play with those guys and chase one last ‘chip.
When you’re watching The U this season, stop and appreciate the big guys, especially one of the greats to ever do it: #51 Rob Fabien.
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