Trying to make sense of Robbins' downward spiral

"I really believe we are all disappointed. I know Barret is too. But we have to move on. He's a good person who has had some ups and downs in his life. Things will become more clear as we get more info. We would definitely like to converse with him." -- Raiders head coach Bill Callahan

 

Oakland Raiders' head coach Bill Callahan addressed the media extensively for the first time since Sunday's 48-21 debacle of a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As expected, there was a heavy amount of discussion regarding center Barret Robbins. Callahan described Robbins as "incoherent and he was not capable of knowing where he was" the night before the Super Bowl. Robbins, who has a history of depression and has been diagnosed as bipolar, spent Super Bowl Sunday in a San Diego hospital after disappearing from the team's hotel.

Callahan added Wednesday he still wasn't sure of Robbins' whereabouts, but that Raiders officials had been in contact with the player's wife. Conventional wisdom suggests that Robbins has played his last game as a Raider but Callahan answered "absolutely" to the question of "is he still a Raider?" Callahan also said there is still a viable chance he will remain one despite a few teammates vocally speaking out against him.

Robbins, who was replaced on the Pro Bowl roster by New England's Damien Woody, supposedly had stopped taking his medicine for depression. He missed a team meeting, a position meeting and a walkthrough practice Saturday.

"I was fearful something wrong was occurring," Callahan said. "We were vitally concerned and had alerted security." 

Callahan decided to bench Robbins on Saturday night, then later chose to send him home. Robbins, however, could not get a flight back to the Bay Area from San Diego because his wallet and identification were missing. Robbins later checked into a hospital where he was until Tuesday but there's no definitive word as to whether or not he has been released.

Robbins absence did not cost the Raiders a Super Bowl win but it was clearly a distraction the club did not need at that point.

"We have all the confidence in the world in Adam Treu," Callahan said. "He started 14 games for us when Barret was hurt last year. That was not the reason we lost, Tampa Bay was just better."

Callahan reportedly planned on benching Robbins in favor of Treu earlier in the season but referred to such speculation as "false."

According to Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle, Cartier Dise, who owns a vehicle customizing business that specializes in rims and wheels in San Leandro, said he was among a group that drank with Robbins on the day before the Super Bowl. Dise added that heavy drinking left Robbins, who was replaced by Adam Treu, despondent and suicidal.

Robbins' agent, Drew Pittman, however, referred to rumors of Robbins being in Tijuana as speculation.

Robbins had capably combated his mental illness up until this point and Callahan, who served as Robbins' position for four seasons, saw no red flags despite reports that Robbins had been acting strangely during the week.

"You can only do so much," Callahan said. "I will say that his situation didn't mandate bodyguards around the clock. I've been with him quite a bit and he has always conducted himself professionally."

Callahan said he plans to speak with Robbins; a 29-year old father of two children, but there is no current timetable.

"I won't know his whereabouts until I look him in the eye," Callahan said. "I refuse to listen to anyone else's speculation until I talk to him. We're going to do everything we can to help him. We're concerned but we know he's in good hands. We'll respect his privacy."

In 1997, Robbins indicated that both his parents had struggled with depression and that he controlled his own illness through medication.

"I really believe we are all disappointed," Callahan said. "I know Barret is too. But we have to move on. He's a good person who has had some ups and downs in his life. Things will become more clear as we get more info. We would definitely like to converse with him."

 

Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com


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