- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

Koren Robinson was an up-and-coming receiver for Seattle in 2002 and 2003, catching 143 passes with a 14.9-yard average and nine touchdowns. Now, however, the ninth pick in the 2001 draft is out of the NFL at 25 because of substance abuse.

Robinson slumped to 31 catches last year during which he served a four-game league suspension for using a substance consistent with the drug Ecstasy. Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren suspended him for the critical regular season finale before Robinson was activated for the subsequent playoff game on the condition he would seek treatment for alcohol abuse.

“I was hurting myself,” Robinson said after a stint in rehab. “Going out too much, not getting enough sleep. … My mind wasn’t right. It was hard letting people down, disappointing yourself and wanting to change but still not changing — just really not realizing what you have in hand. I got preoccupied with having fun and doing things [my] way and not performing the way [I was] supposed to.”

After Robinson was charged with driving under the influence and reckless driving in May, the Seahawks cut him. Despite his obvious skills, no team has signed Robinson.

“As a teacher, which I look at myself as still, somehow I couldn’t communicate well enough,” said Holmgren, a former high school teacher. “I kind of failed on that one, and that bothers me. But I don’t regret how we tried to do some things. I just hope it works out for Koren.”

It’s certainly not working out so far. Robinson checked himself into a South Carolina rehab facility Monday.

Sparse surroundings — Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald received $16 million as a rookie, but the third pick in the 2004 draft also lives alone in a barely furnished house in Arizona. With no real reason to go home, Fitzgerald would just hang out with the equipment staff at the training facility, even helping to fold towels hours after the rest of the Cardinals had left.

Fitzgerald did invite some teammates over to watch Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals, but that prompted Anquan Boldin to rip his fellow receiver for the sparseness of the furniture.

“They all call me the cheapest dude in here,” Fitzgerald said of the Cardinals’ locker room. “[But] being a first-round [pick], your teammates have preconceived notions of you when you come in. I couldn’t imagine playing seven years and you make ‘X’ and this young guy comes in, hasn’t caught a pass, hasn’t proven himself and he makes the kind of money [I make]. I just didn’t want anyone to think anything was handed to me.”

Fitzgerald, whose 58 catches were second among rookies last year, also worked hard to show his teammates that he wasn’t a Cardinal just because of his father’s friendship with coach Dennis Green that led to his being a ballboy for Minnesota when Green coached there.

“Everyone knows I know Coach Green, but I just wanted to prove to them that it wasn’t a charity pick,” Fitzgerald said. “He didn’t bring me here because he liked me. He brought me here because I was talented. The longer I’m here, [people] will really figure that out.”

Not in a New York minute — The hopes for two new football stadiums in New York have run aground. The planned stadium for the Jets on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is very much in doubt because its projected costs are stratospheric.

At the same time, the Jets are objecting to some aspects of the Giants’ hoped-for replacement of both teams’ 29-year-old home, Giants Stadium. The Giants want to move their training camp back home from Albany with the Jets continuing as a tenant, while the Jets want to revamp the Meadowlands sports complex into a destination property with restaurants and stores with each club receiving equal billing.

“Everyone has their own ideas about how this project should happen, and these ideas have to be worked through,” said acting New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey.

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