Will the Oakland Raiders continue to sink to deeper levels of oblivion?
Goodness knows, the Raiders have had plenty of negatives surrounding the team throughout the season. There has been the lawsuit, the Bill Romanowski-Marcus Williams saga, Rich Gannon heading an injury list bigger than the New York phonebook, Charles Woodson calling out head coach Bill Callahan, Rod Woodson calling out his teammates.
And yes, there was center Barret Robbins going AWOL on Super Bowl eve. Robbins, however, has turned his situation into something positive after undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse. Plus, if you need an uplifting story in a terrible season, look no further than Robbins.
Several Raiders wondered if they could ever trust Robbins after that episode. He underwent knee surgery in the offseason and his weight swelled to 370 pounds, making the recovery process slower. Raiders right guard Mo Collins was one of those outspoken critics of Robbins.
"He's pushed through it," Collins said earlier this season. "He's been through a lot of adversity. A lot of guys, including myself, turned against him. We didn't listen to the facts and he had a problem. He came to work everyday and he's ready to go."
Robbins returned to the lineup in the fourth game of the season and was voted the winner of the Ed Bloch Courage Award by his teammates. Robbins has not performed at the Pro Bowl level he achieved last season but his return to the lineup has been an uplifting story in an otherwise dismal season for the Raiders.
Oakland enters Sunday's home game against the Minnesota Vikings with a 2-7 record and a five-game losing streak. Robbins admits that the team losing has somewhat tempered the excitement of returning.
"It hurts, it really does," Robbins said. "It's so disappointing for me. I just hurt ... deeply. I wanted so badly for this team to be what it could be instead of what it is right now because of what happened to me last year. "It hurts because you want to do more ... but you don't quite know what to do or say and you are in position where you are kind of handcuffed (not knowing) what (to) say and how (to) handle it."
Robbins hoped that the team making another Super Bowl could be part of his healing process. Robbins, however, added that the team's losing streak would not derail him personally.
"It's a tough time for everybody," Robbins said. "We're trying real hard to keep our morale up. With the expectations of this team being high, it's a challenge to stay up. In that perspective, I guess it kind of parallels what I've been through but I'm not going to let anything bring my personal life down."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached email@example.com