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Robinson moving forward in recovery

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Dec 24, 2007.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    By LORI NICKEL
    lnickel@journalsentinel.com
    Posted: Dec. 22, 2007

    Green Bay - When Koren Robinson was in jail, he prayed. A lot. He called his family as often as he could and talked as long as the guards would let him. He read 20 books, one a day sometimes. He wrote poetry. He drew a picture of his little boy. He sketched images on the envelopes of the cards he sent to his wife, Joy. He took classes, went to Bible studies and attended Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

    Koren Robinson wants to make proud those who stood behind him during his recovery.

    On the recreation days he might have watched TV or shot basketballs at the only goal in the jail. And every night he tried to work out in his cell, where in the cramped space he did pushups, situps, lifted his bed, stretched and jogged in place.

    All the while in that cell, Robinson had only his thoughts, and they were crying, "You have got to change." They were wondering, "What if I don't get reinstated?"

    And they were saying, "I should not be here."

    "Saying it in my head. Laughing, really," said Robinson. "Like, 'Koren, how did you let it get to this point?' But I vowed to myself that I would never be back in that position.

    "And I won't."

    Recovering addicts usually know their last time. For 27-year-old Green Bay Packers wide receiver Koren Robinson, it was Aug. 15, 2006, the last time he had too much to drink and the last time he got in a lot of trouble.

    Recovering addicts usually have a rock bottom. For Robinson it was jail.

    Recovering addicts usually have goals. Robinson's were simply these: Five minutes at a time. Quit drinking. Be a good husband and father. Get your job back. Listen to yourself breathe once in a while.
    A new beginning

    As you can imagine, the effort from Robinson to take him from the last time, to rock bottom, to here, his rebirth as a contributing receiver for the 12-2 Packers has been quite extraordinary.

    After battling alcoholism, substance abuse and numerous arrests that cost him his jobs with the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay took a huge risk in signing Robinson last year as a free agent. Shortly after, he was suspended for a year as a repeat offender of the NFL's substance abuse policy and banished from the team.

    Robinson made his court appearances, saw his therapists and served his jail sentence, and when he completed the suspension, he'd convinced the NFL that he should be reinstated. He rejoined the Packers in October. This is, unequivocally, his last chance to get it right.

    While he once might have been a No. 1 receiver, he is, in Green Bay, the fifth. Yet he has 15 catches for 182 yards. He rounds out The Big Five. He has 19 kick returns for 508 yards, a 26.7 average.

    While he once might have been a dysfunctional mess, he's healthy, happy and clean.

    But that takes work, still, every day.

    "As I tell my sponsor, it's hard to go to AA meetings here (in Green Bay). I have so much going on," said Robinson. "It is hard here because it is a small, isolated community. But I go to church, I'm here with my support group (the Packers), I'm home with my support group, I still go to my counselors twice a week, I'm still taking Antabuse."

    The medication will make Robinson violently ill if he drinks alcohol.

    Of course, Robinson also has to make a lot of choices. He is one of the most well-liked players in the locker room, but drinking is prevalent in many social situations, so going out with the guys could put him in harm's way.

    "Yeah. Have I cut that out? Yeah. Ninety-nine percent, I've cut that out," said Robinson. "One percent, sometimes I go out, just because. To get that camaraderie or whatever. But it's not hard for me. Now, did it used to be hard for me? Yeah, it did. Because I was weak. I was weak-minded. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. Now, it doesn't matter. If you're drinking right beside me, you have a glass of wine or whatever it is, OK that's cool.

    "I'm strong now. Now I can go to a bar and chill. I drink water and I'm fine. And it's not tempting. I look at a situation and go, 'OK, that's not good for you, Koren. Don't do it.' I'm just that far along into my recovery lifestyle and that's not going to bother me. I just don't want that no more.

    "I see now what all that has brought me. It's brought me suspension. I've lost millions of dollars. I've been blasted on TV. I've lost friends. I've lost relationships. The stress, a criminal record, jail time, pulled away from my family. I don't want that no more."

    Robinson said he knows he isn't cured.

    That's just not how recovery works. It's a battle for life.

    "I don't feel like I'm at the end of my journey. I don't feel like I've won. I don't feel like it's complete," said Robinson. "I'm elated, I'm happy, I'm definitely in a good place. I'm comfortable, but I don't want to get complacent. Because when you get complacent, that's when your past, or the demons, start creeping back."
    Counts his blessings

    Now that he can think with a clear head, Robinson is very spiritual and he envisions what he wants all the time. That's to be the guy people count on, not the guy everyone expects to mess up. He wants to make the people who stood behind him - general manager Ted Thompson, Packers quarterback Brett Favre, the NFL, his wife - proud.

    "I can't be selfish. I can't go out and drink," said Robinson. "I just feel like I'm going to count my blessings short if I go down that road. (God) is showing me, 'Koren, when you go down the right path, look what I give you.' Got reinstated, back with the team, we're 12-2. I'm performing out there on the field. Love the kids, love the wife, I'm financially stable. I'm happy. I don't want for anything. I'm good.

    "I owe it all to Him, to my family, to people who supported me, my teammates, Ted, Brett. They motivate me each and every day. I don't want to let anybody down."

    Five minutes after meeting Robinson, it's clear why people root for him, or why Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren agonized about whether he did enough to try and help Robinson, and why Vikings coach Brad Childress embraced him for so long after the Green Bay-Minnesota game last month. Packers receivers Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones think the world of the guy. They don't want to think that addiction is hard or that a relapse might be just a trigger or a bad day away.

    Jennings wants to see him get back to top-flight form "because I've seen his highlights and he's exciting out there." Jones, who had it rough in his own youth, has gotten Robinson to open up to him about his battles. "He's learned from them; that's all you can ask," said Jones.
    A changed man

    And Driver sees a changed man, much like himself when he gave up a criminal life of selling drugs and stealing.

    "He chose to stop drinking. And that's a good thing, now, he's playing the game that he loves," said Driver.

    Favre, who criticized the NFL for exiling Robinson last year, has enjoyed Robinson's progression.

    "I'm sure that a lot of people said, 'Cut ties with him, they need to ban him forever,' " Favre said Wednesday. "We elected to take a gamble with him and that gamble obviously has paid off. But I think the most important thing in Koren's situation is that he's doing better off the field."

    What's funny is that after all this candid talk about jail and alcoholism, the topic that made Robinson uncomfortable was his contract.

    It's up at the end of the season, though the Packers have the option to extend it pretty easily. Thompson, as usual, wouldn't comment on Robinson's contract status or on what he called very private discussions the two had when Thompson was considering signing Robinson. But he did say he's thrilled with Robinson's comeback.

    "He and I understand each other very well and we've known each other a long time," said Thompson. "He's doing good."

    Robinson wants to be back. Green Bay is a quiet NFL town with fewer temptations. The Packers are a first-name basis kind of organization where people look out for one another.

    "I don't even want to talk about the contract or me playing somewhere else," said Robinson. "I'll let the business people handle the business side. I just know I need to be loyal to Ted because of him sticking his neck out there for me. I feel like I'm here for a reason. This is what I need in my life right now.

    "So, I think, this is where I'm supposed to be."
     
  2. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    I always wondered about what drug he takes to make him sick if he drinks. The article said its name.

    I'm happy for Koren as a person that it's working out, and yes, alcoholics have to hit rock bottom in order to realize they have a problem. And sometimes, they have to hit rock bottom twice.

    Good article. It shows how supportive the Packer org is.
     
  3. Tiger

    Tiger Cheesehead

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    its all well and good but if he dosent prove it on the field then hes out of the job, thats just the way pro sports are.
     
  4. cheesey

    cheesey Cheesehead

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    Yeah....but to me, he's been getting better each week. His returns are good, and have given us a boost in that department.
     
  5. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    IMO I think hes learned his lesson, it will always be a hard struggle for him as with any recovering addicts, but with the Packers and family behind him he will make it and continue on the recovering process.

    He has improved with each and every game, and when he catches the balls or has a nice return, I am clapping and cheering him on.
     
  6. Tiger

    Tiger Cheesehead

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    yup its a great story and i really hope he does well.
     
  7. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    His returns are really good. I'd much rather start on our 30 than on our 20. It makes a world of difference. K-Rob gives us this, and you know one of these days he'll bust one. If he didn't fall down that one time, he would have had a TD.
     
  8. packedhouse01

    packedhouse01 Cheesehead

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    The truth is, football isn't the reason for his recovery; His health and family are. In many ways he's fortunate to have been blessed with the talent to play professional football. It is not his right however. He's back on the team because the team wanted to support him and they believe in him. The bottom line to his health is that if he stays away from drugs and alcohol he's going to have a great career in football. The best part however is that he is going to have a much better quality life for himself and his family and that is way more important than his value to this football team. Keep it in perspective.
     
  9. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    Agreed, but in the realm of being a sports fan, we talk about sports. We don't know that much about their families, so that's why we talk more about the sports aspect of it.
     
  10. CaptainItchy

    CaptainItchy Cheesehead

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    Fitting that he caught his first GreenBay TD from Favre...
     
  11. musccy

    musccy Cheesehead

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    he seems very contrite and sounds like he has turned the corner as much as one can reasonably expect. Maybe he's the #5 on the depth chart, but he certainly appeared as the #1 (or 3 considering no DD, GJ) on Sunday.
     

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