Hall of Famer Jim Otto is considered the greatest center in Oakland-Los Angeles-Las Vegas Raiders history, but had things gone differently, Barret Robbins might be right up there when compared. with the famous Double-0.
The Raiders have long had exceptional centers, including Otto, Dave Dalby, Don Mosebar and Rodney Hudson, but had things been different, Robbins might have been the best of them all.
However, one of the most negative incidents in franchise history has Robbins vilified by many Raider Nation fans.
“I think he’s the best lineman in the NFL,” noted football writer Peter King told other reporters on a bus headed to Super Bowl XXXVII, where the Raiders were about to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Unfortunately, Robbins didn’t even suit up for the game.
The 6-foot-3, 350-pound Robbins was selected by the Raiders out of Texas Christian in the second round (No. 49 overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft, and in his second season he took over as the starting center. of the Silver and Black, starting 78 of 80 games over the next five seasons.
After missing 12 games with a right knee injury in 2001, Robbins came back better than ever the following season, when he was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection as the Raiders made it all the way to the Super Bowl. .
However, Robbins re-injured his knee in the AFC Championship Game and was told by an assistant coach a few days before the Super Bowl that if he doesn’t improve, he may not be able to play in the game.
Unbeknownst to most, Robbins suffered from depression and bipolar disorder and had stopped taking his medication. He disappeared in the days leading up to the Super Bowl in San Diego and apparently went on a drunken spree across the Mexican border in Tijuana.
“Many thought what Barrett did was inexcusable at the time, but as the years go by you realize that he had serious problems, that not everything was under his control,” Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown said.
“His name comes up every now and then when people ask me about that Super Bowl. Many thought that what Barrett did was unforgivable at the time, but as the years go by you realize that he had serious problems, that not everything was under his control. Everyone knew Barrett was unstable even then, but I think now everyone has a much better understanding of the things he was dealing with.”
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Two seasons earlier, with Robbins dominating the interior line, including standout defensive tackle Warren Sapp, the Silver and Black defeated the Bucs, 45-0, as running backs Tyrone Wheatley and Napoleon Kauffman rushed for two touchdowns and the Raiders racked up 242 yards. by land. .
However, in Super Bowl XXXVII, the Bucs defeated the Raiders, 48-21, with long snapper Adam Treu replacing Robbins at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
Robbins showed up at the Raiders hotel the night before the game, but coach Bill Callahan sent him away to be with his family. When he woke up the next morning, his wife, Marissa, asked him if she knew where he was supposed to be.
“Church?’ Robbins asked.
Robbins regained his starting job with the Raiders in 2003, but was released before the next season after testing positive for steroids. Since he finished his career, he has been arrested several times.
“I’m doing great,” Robbins said in an interview a few years ago. “I am happy to be where I am. Being comfortable in my own skin is highly underrated when it comes to dealing with substance abuse and being bipolar. I have come a long way in the last year. It’s good to have a fresh start. I had to take out some emotions and put some things in the past, so I’m very grateful.
“Some football guys get together and drink, some get together and smoke, some get together and do drugs. I did them all. … I get depressed on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s hard for me to look. I think about it all the time. I hit myself on the head and I’m like, ‘Damn, if only I could have done this or done that.
Raider Nation feels the same way.
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