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Barret Robbins was an integral part of the Oakland Raiders‘ Super Bowl appearance in 2002-03. Robbins had his best year as a pro that season, starting all 16 games at center and making his only Pro Bowl in the NFL. But prior to the biggest game of his career, Robbins ditched the team to party in Tijuana, Mexico. When he finally showed back up, he was so inebriated he couldn’t play in the Super Bowl. The Raiders were forced to start their backup center and went on to lose by 27 points.

Barret Robbins’ NFL career

Barret Robbins was the starting center for the Oakland Raiders in 2003, but when the team made the Super Bowl Robbins didn't even show up.
Barret Robbins played nine seasons in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Robbins was a second-round pick out of TCU in the 1995 NFL draft. The Raiders drafted Robbins with the No. 49 overall pick, and he spent his entire career in Oakland.

Robbins played a total of nine seasons in the NFL, all with the Raiders. After his rookie year, Robbins became the starting center for the team. From 1997-2000, he started all 16 games in four straight seasons.

In 2002, Robbins again didn’t miss a single start. He played so well all season he was named to the Pro Bowl and the First-Team All-Pro. He was the best center in the entire NFL during the season, and his leadership on the offensive line helped the Raiders to a Super Bowl appearance.

Robbins missed Super Bowl XXXVII to party in Tijuana

As dominant as Robbins was on the field in 2002-03, his life was falling to pieces behind the scenes. He constantly went in and out of manic episodes, and he dealt with severe depression throughout the year.

Two days before Super Bowl XXXVII, Robbins mysteriously disappeared from the team hotel in San Diego, Calif. His wife Marisa dropped him off at the hotel before curfew, but he never showed up to the team’s 9 a.m. meeting.

It turns out Robbins called a cab after his wife dropped him off and took a detour to Tijuana, Mexico. He sat at a bar drinking tequila and beer all throughout the day. He found a group of people to drink with and partied for hours.

Robbins finally turned back up at the team hotel at 8 p.m. on Saturday, the night before the biggest game of his career. He was so distraught and inebriated that coaches knew he wasn’t going to be able to play on Sunday.

“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,” Raiders head coach Bill Callahan told the Washington Post.

Robbins was so mentally ill he thought the Raiders won the Super Bowl

Robbins was in such a poor mental state that he couldn’t even grasp reality at the time of his disappearance. He actually thought he was celebrating a Raiders Super Bowl victory when he was partying in Tijuana.

In reality, he was blowing his chance of playing in the biggest game of his life.

Robbins was unable to play in the Super Bowl that Sunday against the Buccaneers. Backup center Adam Treu took his place, and the Raiders lost 48-21.

Robbins’ story just shows how mental illness can affect even the most successful athletes in the world. No matter how happy they seem on the outside, you never know what they’re dealing with on the inside.