Center Barret Robbins, suspended the morning of Super Bowl XXXVII, returned to practice with the Raiders on June 12, the first day of Oakland's mandatory three-day minicamp.
Coach Bill Callahan told reporters that Robbins isn't guaranteed a roster spot for the 2003 season. "I told him when I visited with him last month that he is going to have to earn his spot back on the roster," Callahan said. "He is going to have to earn his position and his respect on a daily basis.
"It's going to be a difficult process."
Robbins, 29, spoke candidly with reporters at the team's Alameda, Calif. training facility after its opening practice of minicamp about his bizarre actions and disappearance late in Super Bowl week. He reportedly missed two meetings and a walkthrough practice the day before the Raiders' 48-21 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in San Diego on Jan. 26. Backup Adam Treu started in place for Robbins in the Super Bowl.
Robbins, right, said the stress of the week combined with alcohol consumption led to his getting suspended and entering a rehab clinic. "I was in a different state," he said. "I was not present mentally."
Robbins (right) told reporters he spent 31 days at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for treatment. The seven-year Oakland starter said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (a chemical imbalance in the brain) during his stay. Robbins said he's on medication for the first time and undergoing therapy. He also said he hasn't had a drink since the day before the Super Bowl.
"I want to be stronger than this disease, than this illness and overcome it," Robbins said. "I'm committed to that, and with the help of my teammates, I'll be able to do it. I'm learning how to live my new life."
Robbins was criticized by some teammates following the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance in 19 years, but revelations about his medical problems tempered some of the resentment. Robbins reportedly addressed his teammates in May and apologized for his actions.
"We're working as a family to get past it," said guard Frank Middleton, among the Raiders players who initially lashed out at Robbins. "Everything is not great, but it's getting better. He messed up, but he went through his punishment. He apologized to the team. That's all you can ask for.
"Even the penitentiary gives you three strikes. This is his first strike with me. As long as we don't have any relapses, we'll be all right."
Said quarterback Rich Gannon: "That's not an easy thing to do, to get in front of 75 to 80 players and coaches and kind of open your heart, your emotions and pain. But it was something he had to do and needed to do."
Despite making the Pro Bowl last season for the first time in his eight-year NFL career, Robbins is expected to enter training camp as Oakland's No. 2 center behind Treu, who has started 14 of 96 regular-season games since being a third-round draft pick of the Raiders in 1997. Robbins, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in April, was the second-team center during drills in minicamp.
"As a person and as a teammate you have to have compassion for him," Treu told reporters. "He has a life and a family. He's a young guy. Hopefully it all works out."