Robinson starts over in Green Bay

GREEN BAY -- Koren Robinson stood in front of his Lambeau Field locker last week and said the same things he said in Seattle. And Minnesota. And Honolulu.

GREEN BAY -- Koren Robinson stood in front of his Lambeau Field locker last week and said the same things he said in Seattle. And Minnesota. And Honolulu.

It sounds great because Robinson can tell a story. He's bright, charming, supremely talented and an alcoholic.

In the past, that combination has been enough to bring Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren to public tears and to prompt the Minnesota Vikings to cut a player fresh off a Pro Bowl berth. It's been enough to land Robinson in jail and rehab, and earn him two suspensions from the NFL.

This time, Robinson swears, is different. "I'd tell people whatever I felt I needed to tell them just to get them off my back," Robinson said. "That's not me now."

Robinson, 27, is three games into another comeback from off-field trouble, and the former N.C. State star knows this might be his last chance. He's caught eight passes so far for Green Bay Packers, who are the surprise of the NFC at 9-1.


"We need this guy," Green Bay Pro Bowl receiver Donald Driver said. "He could be the piece that puts us over the top."

That might sound like the Packers are depending pretty heavily on a guy who has a history of letting people down and who is only a few weeks removed from a one-year suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

But Robinson has captured the imagination of everyone from the top on down with the Packers organization and there's no question the top in Green Bay is quarterback Brett Favre, a certain Hall of Famer.

Favre, who recovered from an addiction to painkillers, believes so much in Robinson that he set up the receiver to work out in Arizona with his personal trainer. The Packers signed Robinson last year, shortly after he was bounced by the Vikings following an arrest in training camp for traffic and alcohol violations.

Robinson appeared in only four games before his suspension began, but that was enough time for his charm and talent to make an impression in Green Bay. The hopes grew higher as Robinson successfully completed a suspension that included random tests for drugs and alcohol and returned to get 10 snaps in a Nov. 3 game against Kansas City.

The light hasn't always been so bright for Robinson.

"I felt like I was always going that way, but I just didn't want to turn the light on all the way," Robinson said.

He knows people like Favre and Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who worked for the Seahawks when they drafted the receiver No. 9 overall in 2001, are counting on him. But Robinson said the one thing he's learned from his rehab counselors is that he has to focus on himself and not others or what they think.


"Now, I don't care how other people view me," Robinson said. "I'm not trying to sound harsh. But I know if I give my life to God, everything else should fall into place. That's what I'm doing now. My teammates, they love me. I'm being honest with them and being honest with my coaches and the front office and the organization and my family and friends. That's all that matters to me."

Those stories about Robinson showing up drunk at team meetings or not showing up at all for practices when he was with the Seahawks have circulated for years and Robinson no longer denies them. He takes some exception to media reports of his arrest while with the Vikings, but doesn't want to get into what he says are minor details about a situation he knows he shouldn't have put himself in.

Those days are over, he said. He wants to get back to being the kid he was in his Belmont, N.C., hometown or the young man he was at N.C. State.

"Those problems weren't with me at all in Belmont or N.C. State," Robinson said. "Those problems didn't come until I got into the NFL. I got so big-headed, that I was scared to ask for help because I didn't want people to feel I was weak."

Robinson has a wife and children now, and the small-town atmosphere of Green Bay might not include the temptations of his previous NFL stops.

"When I look back now, the only thing I can really do is laugh, because I know that wasn't the true me," Robinson said.

"That's how far I was gone from my morals and my values. It used to be that I was always the victim. But it's not that way anymore. I'm smart enough now to know that if you put yourself in a situation, you've got to be prepared for the consequences.

"I take full responsibility for everything I did. But I can't dwell on it. That stops you from growing. If I keep beating myself down, I'm not going to be able to keep growing and really reach my potential."


-- Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune

Information Services

What To Read Next
Get Local