Most minicamps are dull at first glance – Thursday was not most minicamps for Oakland Raiders center Barret Robbins.
He addressed the media en masse for the first time since being suspended from the team after disappearing on Super Bowl weekend. Robbins also cleared up some misconceptions about his bipolar disorder. The assumption for many people was that Robbins was diagnosed with the condition before the Super Bowl and it reared its head on a trip to Tijuana with him contemplating suicide. Instead, he had previously been diagnosed with depression.
"I was not on medication prior this," Robbins said. "I was not diagnosed with bipolar disorder prior to the weekend in question. That's one thing I want people to understand is that this was not something that was diagnosed until after the Super Bowl."
Robbins spent 31 days at the Betty Ford Center. Robbins now faces the task of continuing to get his life in order and regaining his teammates' trust. Robbins admitted to having problems with alcohol use since his early teenage years but said he has not had a drink since the eve of Super Bowl Sunday.
"It could have been stress," Robbins said. "I know it was a very highly stressful situation added by alcohol abuse. As of right now, I've been undergoing therapy. I'm on medication to level out the chemicals in my brain. I'm on proper medication. I'm just going everyday to get better at knowing what to do and how to live my new life."
Robbins disappeared from the team hotel the Friday before the Super Bowl in San Diego, which the Raiders lost 48-21 to Tampa Bay, after being accounted for at the 11 p.m. curfew.
Robbins then missed two team meetings and a walk-through before head coach Bill Callahan informed Robbins that Adam Treu would start in his place. Robbins was ripped harshly some teammates with guards Frank Middleton and Mo Collins being the most outspoken critics. The discovery of his medical problems in addition to his apology has softened their stance.
"There's some things that he's got to work through," Collins said. "That's between him and his family. We're professionals. We've got to come in to work together so we can win a championship."
Middleton brought a humorous side to the situation by singing "We Are Family."
"It was real quiet," Middleton said of his first encounter with Robbins. "Nobody knew how to approach it. I didn't know how to approach it and I don't think he knew how to approach it. We're still mending the fence, man. I'm not saying everything is perfect but we're working at it by the time September 8th comes and we play Tennessee a lot of people are gonna have to pay for some things."
Robbins said he did not watch the Raiders Super Bowl loss but discovered the outcome later. Robbins' 2002 season was a rewarding one until that point. He qualified for the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career after recovering from a serious knee injury in 2001.
Robbins spoke with ESPN's Andrea Kremer in an "Outside the Lines" feature Wednesday night and to a horde of local media Thursday.
"I'd like to start off by saying to the Oakland Raider fans that I really apologize for the situation in the Super Bowl," Robbins said. "I have long admired the dedication of our fans. I'm very sorry for what happened on Super Bowl Sunday. My family and I have gone through a tough time through this and I appreciate all of the support I've gotten from fans, friends, loved ones, doctors, senators, lawyers – you name it. There's been a lot of support."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com