CNNSI.com 2003 Football Playoffs 2003 Football Playoffs


Closer Look

Oakland players feel let down by dismissed Robbins

Posted: Monday January 27, 2003 2:34 AM
Updated: Tuesday January 28, 2003 2:00 AM
  Rich Gannon, Barret Robbins Barret Robbins wasn't around Sunday to anchor the Raiders' offensive line. AP

By John Donovan, CNNSI.com

SAN DIEGO -- To a lot of Barret Robbins' teammates, the sin was unforgivable. The biggest game of his life -- of their lives -- and he wasn't there?

"All year we tried to build a bond that was unbreakable," Oakland guard Frank Middleton said after Sunday's Super Bowl, which the Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "We wanted to be a family. When crunch time came, one of our family members didn't come through. It hurts."

Robbins was dismissed from Sunday's game -- and perhaps the team -- after he reportedly missed several team functions on Saturday, including the final meeting before the Super Bowl. Oakland's center was pulled from the starting lineup and replaced by Adam Treu.

The Raiders then went into the game and had one of their worst showings of the season, managing only 269 yards, giving up five sacks and getting five passes intercepted in the 48-21 rout.

Absence remains a mystery
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Barret Robbins' disappearance was still a mystery Monday night.

Robbins disappeared Friday and didn't resurface for nearly 24 hours, after which the Raiders kicked him out of the team hotel.

Robbins spent game day in a hospital, where he was expected to remain until at least Tuesday, agent Drew Pittman said. Robbins was replaced on the AFC Pro Bowl roster by New England's Damien Woody.

Pittman said he hasn't spoken with Robbins since last week, but has talked to Robbins' wife.

"His wife is with him in a San Diego hospital," Pittman said Monday night from Dallas. "He's receiving ongoing treatment, and had some preliminary tests done that showed there were no drugs in his system."

Pittman said he hoped to learn more about Robbins' condition on Tuesday. The agent said he didn't know which hospital Robbins was in, and was unaware of his condition.

Raiders speaking on the condition of anonymity told the San Francisco Chronicle that Robbins spent Saturday in Tijuana, Mexico. Pittman called the report "speculation."

After the Raiders' loss, Oakland head coach Bill Callahan promised he would reveal all when the team returned home. But in typical Raiders style, the team stayed off-limits to reporters on Monday. 
 
 

No one was willing to make a direct connection between Robbins' absence and the team's troubles against Tampa Bay. But, clearly, losing their Pro Bowl center did not help the Raiders on Sunday night.

And, clearly, the Raiders needed all the help they could get.

"Obviously it didn't help our cause," quarterback Rich Gannon said. "But I don't know if it would have made any difference."

Treu found out about 3 p.m. on Saturday that he'd be the starting center after Robbins went AWOL. Robbins reportedly spent Sunday in a San Diego hospital, though coach Bill Callahan said he had been sent back to the Oakland area.

Robbins is one of five Pro Bowl players on the team and was in the middle of what many considered the finest offensive line in the NFL. Without Robbins, though, the Raiders managed only 19 yards rushing.

There was a question late Sunday as to whether Robbins had been suspended for the game or whether he had been cut from the team. Callahan said after the Super Bowl that the dismissal would not affect the team further. But, he said, "obviously it creates a roster position."

If Robbins stays, he will have to face some angry teammates.

"This is the Super Bowl," cornerback Charles Woodson said after the game. "You can't really feel sorry for him.

"That's tough. I don't understand it. I've had my share of situations. But I can't see it."

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Many of Robbins' teammates said they felt the veteran lineman let the team down by putting himself in a position where the coach felt compelled to dismiss him. And several said that Callahan's decision to dismiss Robbins was the only course of action he could take.

"[Robbins] made a decision. He has to live with that decision," Middleton said.

Asked if he would be willing to forgive Robbins and let him back on the team, Middleton hesitated.

"Once you cross me," he said, "I don't like it. I don't respect it. It's hard to go to war with someone that didn't show up on the biggest night of my life."


 
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