JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The tears unified under Michael Robinson’s eyes, and flowed in straight and narrow stream over his cheeks.
Robinson walked slowly off the turf at CenturyLink Field following the Seahawks’ NFC title game win against the San Francisco 49ers. He wasn’t hurt. He hadn’t been defeated. Quite the opposite.
After thinking he lost everything associated with his football career five months prior, Robinson was instead going to the Super Bowl as arguably the team’s biggest winner.
“I’ve gotten a lot of questions about me crying and all that type of stuff, but it was just I had a long year,” Robinson said.
The Seahawks’ veteran fullback was cut at the end of camp when he was sick. Robinson’s weight plummeted 30 pounds to 212 because of complications from Indocin, a prescribed anti-inflammatory. He was admitted to the hospital twice.
Robinson thought that was it for his NFL career. After seven seasons, he was preparing to move into broadcasting once he figured out what had caused partial and temporary kidney and liver failure.
“When I got cut, you always hope to get an opportunity again,” Robinson said. “You always hope you get to come back here.”
Doctors were initially stumped. At first, they sent Robinson home from the hospital after treating him for dehydration. He wasn’t eating. Pounds fell off. Finally, liver and kidney specialists knew what was wrong with Robinson. A shift in his prescriptions allowed him to ramp his weight, energy and life back up.
When fullback Derrick Coleman hurt his hamstring during the Oct. 17 Thursday night game against the Arizona Cardinals, Robinson had an immediate reaction. Concerned, he texted Coleman to see if he was all right. Seahawks general manager John Schneider called Robinson the next day to check on him.
No one was more pleased with Robinson's return than Marshawn Lynch. There is a synergy between the two.
Robinson’s locker is next to Lynch’s. Lynch is the lockerroom DJ, blasting music from a boom box in his locker. Robinson said he hardly notices the music anymore.
When Robinson returned to the team – opting for Seattle over opportunities with the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans – he decided not to bring his family along. So, he moved in with Lynch.
Robinson is Lynch’s de facto spokesperson. Monday, Robinson sat at his interview table fielding dozens of questions. Almost half were about the publicly reticent Lynch.
“I think I’ve been asked more questions about Marshawn than myself,” Robinson joked.
That, in part, is because he holds stature on the team that allows him to do things to Lynch others would not get away with. After coming to Seattle in 2010, Robinson started the “Real Rob Report,” shooting videos from around the Seahawks lockerroom and posting them to his website.
There is a compilation episode called, “Messing with Marshawn.” Robinson pokes and prods his pal to be himself in front of the camera. The privately jovial and often joking Lynch refuses, maintaining his silent public persona.
Robinson also carries enough weight with Lynch that one day, when being interviewed after Lynch had stepped away, Robinson just yanked the cord from Lynch’s phone out of his stereo to abruptly cut the music. It’s unlikely anyone else would attempt that, despite how friendly Lynch is with his teammates.
When asked what he liked so much about Robinson, Lynch answered, “His big head.” Robinson had popped into the interview scrum to put his arm around Lynch and have a laugh.
Robinson is again a lead blocker for one of his best friends. He's back with the team that had to discard him under the NFL's cutthroat approach to personnel. He's healthy.
The Seahawks are the second-youngest team in Super Bowl history. Robinson is one of 10 Seattle players who have seven or more years of experience.
“When we did come back to him and we were able to get it together and all, it was very meaningful for Michael,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “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.”
Which makes this Super Bowl run all the more satisfying for Robinson.
He said he was out of tears after the NFC title game. If the Seahawks win Sunday, that statement is likely to be proven inaccurate.