ALERT: Troubled NFL player shot by Miami Beach police
BY CASEY WOODS and JASON COLE
A man shot by a Miami Beach police officer Saturday night has been identified as troubled former Oakland Raider football player Barret Robbins, police said Sunday.
Robbins, a Pro Bowl center, was shot after he struggled with a police officer investigating a burglary call on the 1200 block of Washington Avenue above the South Beach nightclub Mansion.
''As far as our officer was concerned, he (Robbins) was a burglar,'' said police spokesman Robert Hernandez. The officer and player - who is 6'3 and some 300 pounds -- were involved in violent struggle before Robbins was shot several times.
Robbins, 31, was listed in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery.
The officer, Det. Mike Muley, suffered minor head injuries and was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Robbins made headlines in 2003 when he disappeared on the eve of the Super Bowl.
The Raiders released him in July.
Saturday's run-in with the law is Robbins second in less than a month.
On Christmas Eve, he was arrested in San Francisco on battery and drunk and disorderly charges after he allegedly hit a night club security guard, authorities said.
Robbins had angered after he was told the bar he was trying to enter was closed, according to the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.
By then, he had already been let go by the NFL.
In July, 2004, Robbins was released by the Raiders a week after being fined three game checks for a positive test the steroid THG. Robbins, who has also had reconstructive knee surgery, didn't play. Robbins has a history of dealing with depression along with a drinking problem and positive test for steroid use. He is famous for having disappeared the night before the Super Bowl on Jan. 26, 2003 in San Diego.
Robbins missed a practice and two team meetings the day before the game after going into what he later described as a depressed state. He accentuated the problem by drinking heavily, he and friends said. After missing the Super Bowl, Robbins spent 30 days in a treatment facility to deal with a bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse. He returned to the team that season and eventually discussed his myriad of problems.
Drew Pittman, Robbins' agent, did not return a phone message left by The Herald on Sunday. Saturday's incident began just after 8 p.m. when a business owner called Miami Beach police to report a robbery in a second-floor office. It was unclear where on Miami Beach Robbins had been staying.
awwchrist wrote:Officer claimed he (Barrett) was going after his sidearm.
Death by Cop? Who knows.
I was wondering the same thing when I heard the story. Reminds of that player (who's name escapes me right now) that was a first round draft pick a few years ago as a defensive lineman and bounced around a couple teams, who had similar mental health problems and seemed to have a deathwish.
Fantasy Football: "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity"
When former Raider Barret Robbins suffered a mental breakdown and went AWOL before the 2003 Super Bowl -- going on a Tijuana drinking binge that left him tearfully talking of suicide -- it seemed his life had hit rock bottom.
Instead, it turns out that Robbins' downward spiral has taken him to even greater, and more tragic, depths.
Robbins, who has battled the twin demons of bipolar disorder and alcoholism, remains in a south Florida hospital in critical but stable condition after being shot at least twice during a violent struggle with police Saturday night. A Miami Beach detective also was knocked unconscious.
As of Tuesday, police had not been able to interview the heavily sedated Robbins. So authorities, who were responding to a burglary call, have no idea why he was in a women's restroom in a South Beach office building. Or why he was even in Miami.
It's yet another bizarre chapter for the troubled former All-Pro center and father of two daughters.
Acquaintances of Robbins, 31, have described him as a good -- even gentle -- man caught in the throes of a disease he apparently cannot control. The shooting comes just weeks after Robbins was charged on Christmas Eve for assaulting a San Francisco hotel security guard.
"It's just sad," said Raiders tight end Teyo Johnson. "You talk to anyone who knows Barret really well and they will tell you he's a great guy and a very generous person with a huge heart. Everybody loves Barret. Everybody. He's never mean to anybody."
Yet he also has demonstrated wild mood swings and the capacity for violence. Mental health experts say such erratic behavior can be seen in extreme cases of bipolar disorder -- a brain chemistry ailment that also is known as manic-depressive illness. It can be treated with medication but is not curable.
"People with this condition just do not have control of their behavior at times," said sports psychologist Richard Lustberg. "If you look at his crimes-against-society behavior, he's starting to look like Mike Tyson, who also suffers from depression. He's heading in a direction that you don't wish for anyone."
Searching for answers
In Robbins' hometown of Houston, Bobby Plummer doesn't understand what happened to his former star.
"All this stuff has been shock after shock because he's as good a kid as I've ever had," said Plummer, the retired Sharpstown High football coach. "And I'm not just talking about athletes. I'm talking all of them."
Robbins was raised by a single mom and Plummer remembers that Kay Robbins, who died of a sudden illness in 1999, and her son were extremely close. Plummer also recalls Robbins being active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and having a soft spot for the school's special education students.
"Some of them were in wheelchairs and others were in real bad shape mentally," Plummer said. "Barret would work with them. They loved him. They called him Big Bear. We'd take the kids by bus to this park in Houston and he wheeled them around, threw balls to them."
The only negative Plummer recalls about Robbins was that he did drink in high school -- although not so much that he got in trouble.
After a college career at Texas Christian, Robbins was a second-round pick of the Raiders in 1995 and became one of the NFL's best centers.
But there were warning signs. While Robbins' problems became national news on Super Bowl Sunday two years ago, there were indications he had been in turmoil -- and drinking excessively -- for far longer.
He missed the last two games of the 1996 season when he spent five days in a hospital and was diagnosed with depression. After the Super Bowl incident, Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist Bob Padecky wrote that late in the 1996 season, Robbins had acted strangely on a Raiders trip, following him to his Denver hotel room and standing outside his door, staring blankly. Padecky then helped him to the lobby.
At the 1997 Raiders training camp, Robbins told the San Francisco Chronicle that both his parents suffered from depression and that he had an episode before his senior season at TCU.
His life spiraled out of control Super Bowl week when he left the team hotel in San Diego for a drinking spree that witnesses said left him crying and talking of suicide.
Robbins wasn't allowed to play in the 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay. He spent 31 days in the Betty Ford Clinic, quit drinking, and was prescribed medication for the bipolar condition.
He returned to the team the following season but was released last July when operations failed to repair his chronically injured right knee. About a week earlier, the NFL had fined Robbins three game checks for testing positive for THG -- the designer steroid at the center of the Balco Laboratories scandal.
Once out of football, Robbins was out of the news. Until last month.
Johnson saw Robbins at a Warriors game in December.
"He looked great," Johnson said. "He looked healthy. He seemed cool. It was right before that thing at the hotel."
Early Christmas Eve, Robbins was arrested for battery and public drunkenness after hitting a nightclub security guard who had escorted him out.
That was a prelude to last weekend's shooting at an office building in the heart of Miami's trendy South Beach district. According to police, Robbins was discovered in a restroom. Robbins was being directed out when he became agitated. Suddenly the police were dealing with a man who stands 6-foot-3 and played at about 340 pounds -- and reportedly has put on weight since retiring.
In the struggle, Robbins allegedly went for the gun of detective Mike Muley, who shot Robbins at least twice before being knocked out. Robbins' estranged wife, Marisa, said in a statement to ESPN that one bullet pierced her husband's heart and another punctured his lung.
Miami Beach police spokesman Bobby Hernandez said it's not known if Robbins had been drinking. He also said officers on the scene had no idea who Robbins was or that the suspect had a history of mental instability.
"There wasn't enough time to have dialogue with him where we could figure out that this guy has issues and we could bring in our crisis intervention team," Hernandez said.
Johnson -- whose girlfriend is close to Marisa Robbins -- declined to discuss what he knows about the incident other than to say the ex-Raider was not committing a robbery. Robbins' former agent, Drew Pittman, has speculated publicly that Robbins might not have been aware of where he was. Lustberg agreed that's a possibility.
"On the upper end of psychosis, they might not know where they are or even who they are," Lustberg said. "He's clearly not medicated correctly because usually you can get this under control."
Raiders offensive lineman Barry Sims said he believed Robbins was struggling with life in retirement because "football meant everything to Barret." Bipolar disorder could have only made his separation from the game worse, Sims added.
"I don't want people to think that this was a conscious decision by Barret," Sims said. "This isn't the way he thinks. Obviously other things are involved here. I just hope he gets the help he needs."
Hernandez said Robbins probably will be charged with trespassing and battery of a police officer. Right now, that's secondary to his recovery from the gunshot wounds.
After the Super Bowl, Plummer sent a letter to Robbins, but he never got a response. Today, he's sending prayers.
"I think about him a lot, even if I don't hear from him, because you just know that things are wrong," Plummer said.
This is horrible news. You never wish bad to a person, and this guy certainly has had his issues. I hope he can get the help he needs and straighten himself out before it's too late. Unfortunately, it may be too late now.