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Absent center is barred from the Pro Bowl

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 28, 2003

Oakland center Barret Robbins, who was barred by coach Bill Callahan from playing in the Super Bowl after a 24-hour unexcused absence, will not play in his first Pro Bowl on Sunday in Honolulu after team doctors did not clear him medically.

Robbins, 29, an eight-year NFL veteran, has had a history of depression and mental illness and reportedly remained hospitalized in the San Diego area Monday.

According to an NFL spokesman, any Pro Bowl player on either Super Bowl team must be cleared by his team's medical staff in order to play in the all-star game. "The Raiders' doctors did not believe he was physically fit to perform in the Pro Bowl and they notified our office today," NFL spokesman Joe Browne said. Robbins' spot on the AFC roster will be taken by New England's Damien Woody.

A Raiders spokesman said the team was not commenting further on Robbins' situation, but four teammates told the San Francisco Chronicle he had been in nearby Tijuana, Mexico, on Saturday. They said he returned to the team hotel in time for a mandatory meeting Saturday night, but was told by team officials not to attend.

The Chronicle reported that Robbins, distraught over not being able to play, was initially treated Sunday by a league emergency response team.

Team members could not be reached for comment Monday, and Robbins' agent, Drew Pittman, was not available.

Robbins has at times battled to control his emotions on the field. He picked up a costly personal foul penalty in September when he struck Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Late last season, he was ejected from a game against Baltimore for kicking Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN OAKLAND: Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse fans who smashed windows and set cars on fire after the Raiders' Super Bowl defeat.

At least 80 people were arrested Sunday night, mostly for public drunkenness and throwing rocks and bottles at police and obstructing officers, authorities said. Police said they are reviewing videotapes of the violence to try to identify some of those who escaped arrest.

"Unfortunately, you had a convergence of some young men that seemed hellbent on taking advantage of a situation to engage in lawlessness," Police Chief Richard Word said.

About 10 vehicles were set afire, and crowds broke the windows of at least one television news van, police and witnesses said. One group of young men set debris on fire in the middle of a street and then posed for news photographers. Rioters broke nearly every window at a McDonald's restaurant, which also was set on fire.

Nine fire department vehicles and 12 police cars were damaged and three firefighters were injured, none seriously.

Police closed off some streets as the trouble shifted through various areas of East Oakland.

"We towed about 60 vehicles and we wrote about 400 citations. But we're not done yet," Word said.

It was the second straight week that violence happened after a Raiders game. Jan. 19, after the team advanced to the Super Bowl, crowds set fires, broke windows and threw rocks and bottles along International Boulevard, the same area hit after the championship game.

ABC AUDIENCE GROWS: ABC-TV said it attracted the largest audience for the Super Bowl in three years. The Bucs-Raiders game was watched by an average 40.7 percent of the 106.7-million U.S. homes with televisions. The rating was up 1 percent from Fox's telecast of last year's Super Bowl between the Patriots and Rams.

ABC said its telecast attracted an average 88.6-million viewers, the most since 1998, when 90-million tuned in.

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