Callahan says Robbins lost it on eve of game

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2003

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Barret Robbins was incoherent and didn't know where he was the night before the Super Bowl, Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan said Wednesday in his first public comments about the troubled All-Pro center.

Robbins, who has a history of depression, spent Super Bowl Sunday in a San Diego hospital after disappearing from the team's hotel the night before. Callahan would not reveal Robbins' current whereabouts, and it wasn't immediately known whether Robbins remained hospitalized or whether he had returned to the Oakland area.

''I'm concerned, but I know he's in good hands,'' Callahan said.

The 6-foot-3, 320-pound lineman reportedly had stopped taking his medicine for depression. He missed a team meeting, a position meeting and a walkthrough practice Saturday, Callahan said.

''I was fearful something wrong was occurring,'' said Callahan, who decided to bench Robbins on Saturday night, then later chose to send him home. ''I was concerned about something tragic happening.''

The Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-21, but Callahan refused to say Robbins' absence had a bearing on the outcome.

The 29-year-old Robbins could not make flight arrangements from San Diego to Oakland because his wallet and identification were missing, Callahan said.

The first-year coach called his decision to send Robbins home a ''no-brainer,'' adding that Robbins was not in a physical or mental state to play a football game.

''I feel terrible in a lot of respects for the situation and very disappointed, as I'm sure Barret's disappointed,'' Callahan said. ''I have not had an opportunity to speak with Barret, but I know that he senses and feels that. Hopefully we can rectify and he can rectify the current situation that he's in. But leading up to the game, I had no idea of his whereabouts.''

Callahan plans a meeting with Robbins, but offered no timetable.

''I don't know where he was, and I don't know until I look at him eye to eye and ask him,'' Callahan said. ''There's a lot of speculation out there and I refuse to listen to it until I get the opportunity to speak to Barret. At this juncture, the main thing is his health and his family and his right to his privacy. We're going to do everything we can as an organization to help him, to assist him and to support him to get better.''

A man who says he was among a group that drank with Robbins on the day before the Super Bowl told the San Francisco Chronicle that heavy drinking left the Raiders' center despondent and suicidal.

''He was crying and totally depressed about his life and the pressure he was under,'' said Cartier Dise, who owns a vehicle customizing business that has provided rims and wheels for the vehicles of Raiders players.

''This guy was messed up. All he could think about was his family, his two daughters,'' Dise told the newspaper. ''He was talking about killing himself, saying he was disappointing people and he had a lot of people to support financially and he was letting them all down.''

Dise did not immediately return calls Wednesday.

While the Raiders were provided NFL security at their team hotel and during practices, Robbins was not under any special watch. He had no emotional problems on road trips previously this season.

''There's a point in time you can only do so much as a coach and as an organization,'' Callahan said. ''His situation didn't mandate personal bodyguards around the clock.''

When asked if Robbins is still a Raider, Callahan said, ''absolutely'' and said there's a ''viable'' chance he will play for the team.

Some of Robbins' teammates have expressed their concern with the idea of him returning to the team.



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