The NFL banned Robinson for a year for once again violating the league's drug and alcohol policy as well as its personal conduct policy after he was arrested in Minnesota for drinking and driving and evading police. He was a repeat offender and seemingly another athlete who squandered talent we all wished God had blessed us with.
The year away from the NFL was the least of Robinson's problems. The one-time rising star was incarcerated, sent to three different prisons to pay his debt to society. One day he's catching passes from a man who is, in essence, Lou Gehrig in today's sports world, the next he's locked in a tiny cell facing punishment if he so much as talks past 10 p.m.
Robinson was recently released from jail and last week he won re-instatement from the NFL for one last chance to show he can play by the rules — the NFL's rules and the rules of life. He's no longer doing menial jobs behind bars. Robinson, instead, has been given what is likely one final chance at righting the wrongs of his football and personal lives.
Last Tuesday, the day before Robinson was to return to the Packers, the troubled receiver sat down with me at Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz., for an exclusive 30-minute interview to air on FSN's Pro Football Preview.
Robinson opened up about life behind bars, how his suspension and incarceration has changed him, and how even he agrees that this should be his last chance.
Glazer: Within the next month, you will probably be catching passes from Brett Favre. Six months before you were in jail watching the news about Brett Favre not retiring. How harsh was that?
Robinson: The whole situation was just harsh. The whole situation with somebody telling me I can't use the bathroom. You know, if I want to I can't go this way, I can't go that way. I can't do what I want to do as an American, as a citizen, as a human being, and I'm not used to that. I'm in jail. But that's what I get for doing what I did to get there. But I know this and I can tell you this with strong conviction, I can look in your face and tell you this: I won't go back there. And I can tell you that with all of me and everything that I love from the bottom of my heart. I won't go back there.
Glazer: What was the harshest reality when you were in there and you realized, "Hey, I'm a first-round pick, a Pro Bowler, I had my grandkids set up ... and now I'm in a cell?"
Robinson: Harsh. It's a harsh reality ... but it's a lovely reality too. Because I put in the work. I put in the work to get to where I am now. I feel like I am being rewarded for that but I hit a bottom. As far as me going to jail, being away from my family, having my freedom taken away from me, my rights — people telling me I can't do this or that, tuck your shirt in, you can't use the bathroom, you can't shower today you got to wait until Wednesday and it's Sunday ... come on, man!
Six-by-four cell, you're in lockdown. The bars close, I'm like ... that's not where I want to be. That's not where I saw myself and that's harsh. I had to do jail time in Minnesota and Wisconsin, North Carolina. I'm going back and forth going through all of this. I'm like, "Koren, this isn't you. This isn't the person your mother raised, that your parents raised. Something's got to change. You got to grow up and be a man someday!" Seeing the opportunity that was given to me and the things that I just blew, I had to make a change.
Glazer: If you didn't go to jail, would you have woken up?
Robinson: I'm not sure. I'm not sure if I would. I was going that way, slowly but surely I was going that way. Did the jail thing speed it up? I think it did. But just being in jail and thinking about my whole situation, me thinking, OK, Koren you were drinking, you were driving, maybe you would have hit somebody. Maybe you would have hurt somebody else, killed somebody else, killed yourself. I could have left people here mourning and crying all over your stupidity. They don't deserve that. And if I would have hurt somebody or killed somebody, their family doesn't deserve that. Over something I did, over me being selfish ... that's not right.
Glazer: Why am I, why are your fans expected to believe you now as you sit here telling me this? What's different from the Koren when you told me back in Minnesota, we had a talk and you told me, "No, no, no Jay. I'm straight. I'm cool." Which you weren't. You lied to me then. Why am to think you're not lying to me now?
Robinson: Jay, it's like a roller coaster. Up and down. That's how I feel my life has been. That's how I feel my career has been. In Minnesota I felt good. I felt like it was over to a certain degree but I was still trying to weasel my way around. Now I look at that person and I didn't like him because that's not who I am today and that's not who I wanted to be. I'll just live my life to please God and that's where I'm at now.
Robinson in 2004 with the Seahawks
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Glazer: In the past, when you told us, "I'll never do this again. I'm clean, I'm not drinking," you were just trying to get over on us?
Robinson: I was trying to get over on you. I'm being blatantly honest. And now that's not my angle — that's not my angle. I'm trying to correct my wrongs and make my life better, you know — make my life better for my family, make my life better for the people around me, make my life better for me. I see I needed to correct some things in my life and being suspended for the year has been a blessing. And I say everything is part of God's divine plan, and it's also been a blessing for me because it gave me, it allowed me, the opportunity, the time that I needed to correct some of the issues that was going on with me personally.
Glazer: What have you done since being released from jail that convinced Commissioner Goodell you're a changed man and should have another shot in his league?
Robinson: I've got two counselors and I see them twice a week. Drug, alcohol counselors. I see a psychiatrist once a month. And then I take a drug where you can't drink on it. If you drink on it, it makes you sick. (Robinson, by the way, admits he was supposed to take this drug in the past but did not and instead pretended he was adhering to it strictly. He claims this time he takes it religiously.) I do lab tests every two months too.
Glazer: What do they test you for?
Robinson: Liver function enzymes so they see that I'm not drinking. I'm going to AA meetings twice a week. I'm going to church. I'm just staying around positive people and cutting out anyone around me that isn't bringing anything positive to the table.
I feel like I got to have this attitude to succeed because this is about every day and I feel like I got to have this attitude to succeed. It's me and it's my lifelong commitment.
Glazer: Did the inmates ask you for autographs? Autographs from Favre?
Robinson: Definitely. Definitely. I wasn't there to make friends. I was there to fix a problem, correct a problem and move on with my life. And just be mindful and receptive to what happens there so you can take that and learn from that and grow from that to where you won't put yourself back in that situation.
Glazer: How therapeutic will it be for you to get back in football? Or are you afraid of what's going to happen when the fame and the glitz and the glamour come back to you?
Robinson: It's going to be real therapeutic. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I walk with God and he's gonna get me through everything I need to get through. I feel like I've set myself up personally to be able to cope with anything that comes my way as far as the fame, as far as the success, whatever it may be. I've done what I need to do to put myself in a good spot, a good position, so that when those things come up that I've had trouble with in the past I can get through it, I can cope with it without using or anything like that.
Glazer: When you're out there and you've come back and you're standing in the middle of Yankee Stadium for the NFL, Lambeau Field, can you even imagine what it's going to feel like? Having been though what you've been through, could you imagine that you would actually get back there?
Robinson: I thought I shot myself in the foot. I thought it was over, thought my career was over, honestly. It's hard. The whole situation is crazy, man. It's going to feel good, man, I can tell you that. I just know right now that I'm just excited. I'm happy. I'm elated to have the opportunity to show everybody who I truly am. On the field and definitely off the field because I'm just getting another opportunity to redeem myself. I feel like I've never put my best foot forward. And now I feel like I've been given the opportunity to do that. And I feel like that's what I'm going to do and I know that's what I'm going to do.
I know I'm going to make it. And I say that with strong conviction. I know I'm going to make it, that's my commitment. That's my lifelong commitment: to be a success story. To show everybody that you can make mistakes and come out of it. You can go down this road but when you want to change and do what you need to do to get where you want to be, you can do that too. That's what I want my legacy to be. That's what I want people to see. That he's gone through all of this and he's kept his head up high and he walked out of the fight.
Glazer: You're sitting with me right now and you say you can't believe I got another chance. Do you believe this should be your last chance? If you screw up again, should it be over for you?
Robinson: Yeah, definitely. I honestly do. This should be my last chance. And if I drop the ball this time, it's my fault. Nobody else to blame. I step up and I take responsibility for everything that I've done. From this point on I take responsibility, I have to, I'm a man. I got to step up and be a man. I know what's there for me and I can't afford to drop the ball. I see what I got to lose, I see what I've got to gain and it's right there in front of me. I just have to continue down that path and reach out and grab it and take it. Take what's mine, take what God's trying to give me.
So if I mess up this time, if I drop the ball this time, yeah, it should be my last chance. I take responsibility for everything I've done up to this point and from here on out. I'm a man and I've got to grow up sometime.
Jay Glazer is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com on MSN and also appears regularly as a sideline reporter during telecasts of the NFL on FOX.