Jersey City, N.J. • On one of the happiest football days of his life, Michael Robinson broke down and cried.
Imagine how many tears might flow Sunday night if his Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
Moments after the Seahawks won the NFC title against San Francisco, the eight-year veteran couldn’t hold back the emotions. No, it wasn’t because the 49ers were his former team, a place he spent four seasons. It wasn’t because his role has been diminished in Seattle.
It was because he was even on the field at all.
"I’ve gotten a lot of questions about me crying and all that type of stuff," Robinson said Monday, "but it was just I had a long year, being cut, being sick, not really realizing the extent of the sickness. I didn’t know that my kidneys were failing and my liver was failing. I had no idea. I just thought I was getting a bug."
Actually, he was having severe reactions to the anti-inflammatory drug Indocin last August during the preseason. Robinson got so sick the Seahawks sent him to specialists — and soon realized Robinson wouldn’t be healthy for the opening of the regular season.
"I had mentioned to the doctors, ‘Look man, I think I’m going to come in next week and get some fluids,’ and stuff like that," Robinson recalled without emotion — this time. "And it just went all downhill from there: kidney failure, liver failure, all of it.
"I went to the hospital three separate times. Two times they sent me home and just told me to keep getting fluids. I went two weeks without eating, so I lost a lot of weight. Then, once we brought the liver specialist in and the kidney specialist in, they’ve seen these types of reactions before and they were all over it."
But Robinson’s stint with the Seahawks was over, too — he was released on Aug. 31.
It was not an easy thing for the team to do.
"Mike is a very emotional player and gives everything he’s got, so this instance in particular, when Mike was really sick at the start of the year and was unable to perform, he lost his opportunity," coach Pete Carroll said. "Probably there were moments when Michael thought he might not ever get another chance."
Robinson wasn’t sure what kind of chance he would get in the first place, back in 2006 when he left Penn State as a quarterback and went to San Francisco as a running back and special-teamer. But he bulked up — he’s now 240 pounds — and took to being a blocker for Frank Gore, an occasional runner and receiver, and a standout on kick teams.
He landed with the Seahawks in 2010, Carroll’s first year in charge, and the next season was in the Pro Bowl. A team leader and strong presence, Robinson offered guidance to some of the younger players in Seattle.
But his reaction to the anti-inflammatory medicine seemed to end all that.
Except that Robinson recovered and got himself back in shape. And when his replacement, Derrick Coleman, got hurt in late October, the Seahawks reached out to him.
"I wrestled with it," he said of re-signing on Oct.22, "but it was easy when I looked at my relationship with the guys on the team. That’s why you play this game, and I feel like a big reason why we’re here is that every man in that locker room thinks the same way. We all play because of the guy next to you. You all perform because the guy next to you is counting on you. Peer accountability, the biggest thing is accountability, so that’s what we try to do."
Getting Robinson back on the roster — and, perhaps more significantly, in the locker room — was an easy decision for Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
"He is a big factor on our team because we don’t have that many older guys and he really stands for the old guard," Carroll said of Robinson, who turns 30 four days after the Super Bowl. "He’s been a big factor on special teams as well.
"You can see the emotion come out of Michael. Then he comes back to play and he gets to play in the Super Bowl. I totally get it and respect it."
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