Receiver dismisses concerns about relapse

Updated: July 7, 2006, 7:27 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Koren Robinson knows he'll always be under scrutiny while living life as a recovering alcoholic. These last few days, however, have been a little over the top.

Reports surfaced late Thursday night that Robinson had voluntarily checked himself into a rehab facility to seek further treatment. The term "rehab facility" carries with it a certain stigma that led some to believe he could have suffered a relapse.

Nothing could be further from the truth, Robinson said Friday afternoon.

"People hear rehab and they say, 'Oh no, he has problems,"' Robinson told The Associated Press in a phone interview from South Carolina. "I'm not in rehab. I'm still doing good. I'm still not drinking. I'm still working out. I'm still Koren, the cheerful, happy guy you all saw last year."

Robinson said he did not check himself into a rehab facility and did not have a relapse. Rather, he said, he is merely attending some relapse prevention classes in preparation for the start of the grueling NFL season, which affords the Pro Bowl kick returner little time to work on maintaining his recovery.

It's standard operating procedure for Robinson, who is doing everything he can to make sure that the alcohol problems that plagued him in the past do not return.

Robinson spent 28 days in an alcohol treatment facility last year after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks for several reasons, many of which Robinson attributed to alcohol abuse. He was in the facility during training camps last season and signed with the Vikings shortly after checking out.

The 26-year-old enjoyed a storybook season with the Vikings last year, emerging as the team's most dangerous receiver and making his first trip to Honolulu as a special teamer. He was a pillar in the locker room, being voted by his teammates to receive the team's Ed Block Courage award as well as receiving the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award for his cooperation with the local media.

The Vikings rewarded him with a new three-year contract in March that includes $5.5 million in guaranteed money.

"I just want to make sure I'm good for the season before I put myself back in that lifestyle," Robinson said. "In the NFL, when you lose, you feel real down and when you win, there's a lot of celebrating. I'm just making sure I'm bulletproof and being proactive."

Robinson said the relapse prevention classes help him "tune up" his recovery efforts and "reiterate stuff so that it's fresh in my mind. I just use that so I won't put myself in predicaments that would be bad situations."

During the season, "you don't really have that to-yourself-time," Robinson said. "You have a lot going on where you can't put that stuff in your personal life on the front burner. You can't deal with it."

That's why he's seeking that little extra help now.

The young receiver reflected on his struggles often during last year's renaissance, acknowledging that they will always be with him.

"It just made me a totally different person," Robinson said. "I like how everything turned out. I'm happy. My family's good. I want that. I need that. I have to do what I can do to keep that, whether it's relapse prevention classes, talking to family, talking to friends. Whatever."

But life is good for him now. He's due to be married July 22 and will arrive at Vikings' training camp in Mankato at the end of the month as the team's No. 1 receiver.

Both Robinson and his agent, Alvin Keels, expressed frustration that his approach was made public. They see it as just another step toward maintaining his sobriety.

"Certain words were misconstrued," Robinson said. "I just didn't want anybody to see those reports and get it twisted that I screwed up. ... Tell everyone I'm still good. Everything is all right. I'm looking forward to the season, having a great year and bringing a Super Bowl to Minnesota."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press