The first thing that I want to point out is how impressed I am with Barret for not sidestepping the hard questions asked and giving honest and responsible answers. He refuses to use his Bi-Polar condition as an excuse or a crutch and that is a big step in being able to overcome the trials and tribulations that he has gone through.
Here is the link to the interview. It is long, running at over 34 minutes but every minute is worth listening to. I am going to concentrate on the parts about the Super Bowl but the interview reaches much farther than just football.
Robbins was asked specifically about Tim Brown's allegations that Bill Callahan had thrown the Super Bowl and that his changing the game plan so close to game time caused Barret to lose control. It is interesting because when given this clear cut out Barret doesn't accept it as an excuse which shows just how much he has grown as a person.
“I would be absolutely wrong to tell you that that was the case, ok. If Tim Brown goes on record and says that he changed the game plan on Friday I dont remember. You have to understand that I was having a manic episode that had lasted more than two weeks. At that point of time when we were going to the Super Bowl I was having to shoot my foot up, going through acupuncture, going through a lot of pain. It was a lot of stress. Pain is a big trigger when it comes to Bi-Polar and that was something I was going through along with self medicating. That was a lot so I am not going to say I remember the exact meeting where that took place but I haven't heard anybody deny it.”
Any extra stresses like changing the game plan would not have helped the situation and he does acknowledge that but he also does not let himself say that it was a direct cause. Its a way of acknowledging that it could have been a factor while not removing himself from being responsible which is something that I definitely respect.
Was what happened before the Super Bowl inevitable?
“I can't believe that. There had to be a point where I had to separate fact from fiction. Its hard sometimes when you have Bi-Polar, not on medication and self medicating but I had become delusional and had gotten into a state of mind that is not healthy for anybody. Ultimately it hurt me more than anybody.” Robbins said, “I do hate the fact that it effected 53 other players. I wish they had a Super Bowl ring instead of an AFC Championship ring because they deserved it.”
When asked if he is still blaming himself despite the condition without hesitation Barret acknowledges that it was still his fault with a quick and simple “There is nobody else to blame so sure.”. Once again this is Robbins taking responsibility for himself and not using his condition to eliminate his own fault. He has a condition but he is still responsible for himself as an adult.
Barret knows that he must accept what has happened in his life and that deflecting it onto his condition will not help him. The condition has its effects and will always be there but if he allows the condition to be the excuse instead of taking responsibility it will never do him any good. This too shows how much he has grown as a person and how much better he is doing in his life.
“Bill Callahan did notice my behavior and actually told me were not going to start you unless you get your (stuff) together. Cause he could tell, I know he could tell. The thing I was disappointed most about this whole situation when I was sitting in his office with Coach Callahan after this all happened and he told me how hard it was for him to call the plays in the Super Bowl (because of thinking of me) and all I could do is sit there and understand and say 'my bad im sorry'. Cuz that was the hardest part. But he told me at that same meeting that he had a friend with bipolar so he could relate and that medication was going to be part of the process, something that I would need to deal with and tinker with all my life. I appreciated that support but at the same time he never voiced that to the team in front of me.”
That quote is one that stuck with me from the interview because it showed a side of Bill Callahan that was sensitive but at the same time it showed yet another failing from Bill in this situation. Not to say that it was all Callahan's fault, overall it was still Robbins fault, but to not go and make sure the team understood that the Raiders were there to support Barret was a major failing. It left Robbins ostracized in the locker room due to the overall emotions and misunderstandings about what happened.
Maybe it wouldn't have helped and Barret would have been ostracized from the locker room anyway but nobody will ever know if a public show of support to the team could have helped change the projected path of Robbins. Even Robbins himself admits to being ostracized and that it was probably not able to be overcome but I feel like he really had no chance of avoiding that without a public support from the team's head coach.
“Yeah I was (ostracized). Yeah I did (feel ostracized), you know its hard to do something like that and then earn the trust back. It was a feat that probably wasn't going to happen after that.”
He is right, it was probably unavoidable to go through that type of rejection from the locker room after what happened. Even so, he was left high and dry when Bill Callahan didn't go out of his way to talk to the team about the situation. Its small compared to all the trouble that would follow Barret after his career in the NFL was over but with the cards already stacked against him anything might have been able to help.
Divorce, addiction to self medicating, shot by police and thrown behind bars more than once. The life of Barret Robbins has been a hard one. As the interview on In the Loop with Nick and Lopez continues he speaks candidly about the choices he must live with and how he is doing now, its definitely something you would not regret having listened to.
Even when given the chance to run from what happened he still takes responsibility for his actions that Super Bowl weekend. He believes that if he had been able to play everything would have turned out differently in that game. With the perfect storm of everything going wrong for the Raiders that weekend I think he may be being unfair to himself there but still he is not running from what happened nor blaming it on his condition.
I am sure that he is thankful to Tim Brown and Jerry Rice for standing up for him and for giving a new perspective to that day but he is not able or willing to say that he agrees completely. To agree with all of it would be to deflect his own blame in the situation and that is what he can't and shouldn't do.
Barret has taken responsibility for his life and is moving on one day at a time. He is in a better place now, appreciating his life and his freedom and trying to get back into the football world. He says he would love to be a coach and is looking for any opportunity that can help him right his life.
He has already overcome so much to be the man he is today, I have faith that he will be able to reincorporate sports into his life too. After everything else he has gone through to still be here, sober and appreciating life again I would not bet against him.
If you haven't listened to the interview yet, please do. He goes on to talk in depth about his life after football and it will give you a new understanding and appreciation of Mr. Robbins. I guarantee Barret telling this story publicly is going to help somebody during the hardest moments in their life, maybe it might just be you.