Center Barret Robbins was "incoherent" on the eve of the Super Bowl and the Oakland Raiders were unable to fly him home Sunday because his wallet and identification were missing, Coach Bill Callahan said today.
Callahan declined to disclose Robbins's whereabouts and said he had not yet spoken with the player. He said Robbins, who reportedly has struggled with depression, had shown no signs of any emotional problems during Super Bowl week.
"There was no indication of stress," Callahan said. "We all have stress. I don't know to what degree he handled it. He seemed to handle it very positively in the past."
Callahan's comments were the first of any depth by the Raiders since Robbins was "dismissed" from the Super Bowl. Combined with eyewitness accounts, they provided new details on the bizarre unraveling of an all-pro player hours before the biggest game of his career.
Robbins spent at least two hours Saturday drinking tequila shots and beer in Tijuana, Mexico, according to a Bay Area man who said he was with the player. The man, who requested anonymity, said Robbins entered the bar alone around 2 p.m. and was still drinking heavily when the man and his group returned to San Diego around 4 p.m.
Robbins was so distraught and inebriated, the man said, that he and his friends later remarked that Robbins probably wouldn't be able to play the following afternoon -- fears that were confirmed when they turned on the television the following day.
With backup Adam Treu playing center, Oakland was crushed by Tampa Bay, 48-21. Callahan said that despite Robbins's absence he did not believe "there was a disruptive communication . . . that affected the quarterback."
Callahan said Robbins failed to report to a mandatory 9 a.m. meeting Saturday. He missed unit meetings later that morning, Callahan said, and was not on a noon bus that took the team from the hotel to its practice facility for a 1 p.m. walk-through.
"I was concerned, obviously, as the afternoon and evening went on," Callahan said.
According to the eyewitness, Robbins, who is 6 feet 3, 320 pounds, walked into the Tijuana bar alone around 2 p.m. wearing jeans and a T-shirt. There, he ran into a group of acquaintances from Downlow Customs, an Oakland area store that sells chrome accessories for vehicles, including some owned by Raiders players.
The man, who was part of that group, said Robbins told them he had taken a taxi from San Diego to the U.S.-Mexico border, about 40 minutes away.
The man said Robbins gave no explanation for being away from the team, and the group assumed the players had been excused for the afternoon.
For the next two hours, the man said, Robbins drank heavily, chasing tequila shots with beer. Another in the group, Cartier Dise, 25, was quoted in today's editions of the San Francisco Chronicle that Robbins was suicidal.
"[Robbins] would be [happy] one minute and then the next he was crying and talking about how much all that Super Bowl stuff was getting to him," Dise told the Chronicle.
The eyewitness said the group, including him and Dise, left the bar around 4 p.m. to make it back to San Diego before dark. Robbins, he said, didn't want them to leave: "He kept saying, 'Hey, come back! Why don't you guys stay?' " The man said they left Robbins at the bar and did not see him again.
Two Raiders fans and a bar worker told the Contra Costa Times earlier this week that Robbins was spotted drinking alone at a Pacific Beach bar, Moon Doggy's, early Saturday evening.
Callahan said Robbins finally turned up around 8 p.m. "It was a situation where things had culminated to the point where he was incoherent and he was incapable of even knowing where he was," the coach said.
At that point, Callahan said he decided only that Robbins wouldn't start. He said he changed his mind the following morning, dismissing him from the game entirely because of his "physical state and his mental state."
Callahan said he decided to send Robbins back to the Bay Area. But the team was unable to obtain a plane ticket because the player was missing his wallet and identification. The coach did not say how the items had been misplaced. Robbins reportedly later was hospitalized, but Callahan said he did not know how that was facilitated or who was responsible.
Since then, Robbins's teammates have appeared divided, with some accusing the player of betrayal and others expressing sympathy.
Asked if Robbins was still a Raider, Callahan replied: "Right now? Absolutely."
Robbins's return next year was potentially "viable," Callahan said, but would turn on "what happens in Barret's life. Let's see where he's at. I don't want to pass any judgment on any individual right now."