Oakland players feel let down by dismissed RobbinsPosted: Monday January 27, 2003 2:34 AM
Updated: Tuesday January 28, 2003 2:00 AM
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.
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."
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."