Holmgren to enlist players for decision on Hawks receiver

By CLARE FARNSWORTH
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

KIRKLAND -- Koren Robinson was back on the practice field yesterday as the Seahawks began preparing for Saturday's playoff game against the St. Louis Rams.

But the troubled wide receiver isn't completely out of coach Mike Holmgren's doghouse after his latest indiscretion prompted Robinson's suspension from Sunday's regular-season finale.

"I haven't made the decision yet on exactly what his role is going to be," Holmgren said yesterday. "I'll make a decision before the end of the week."

The two had a closed-door meeting Monday, this time to discuss Robinson's no-show for the team's walkthrough Saturday.

"It went OK," Holmgren said.

Robinson's take? He wasn't talking.

But he definitely was a topic of conversation after missing his sixth game in the past seven for violating either club or league policies. Robinson did not play in the Nov. 21 game against the Miami Dolphins after being late for a team meeting. The next day, the NFL slapped him with a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He returned for one game in a backup role but did not catch a pass. Despite that, Holmgren decided last Wednesday to put Robinson back in the starting lineup against the Falcons, only to suspend him three days later.

Holmgren is enlisting his players committee to help make the decision on what to do with Robinson this week, but those players declined to discuss the touchy situation.

The obvious question: When does too much become enough, even for a player with Robinson's obvious physical skills?



"I'm not sure I'm handling him differently than I handle any other player that seems to me to be in trouble," Holmgren said.

It's just that Holmgren has been forced to handle Robinson much more frequently. He also didn't play in one game last year because he was late for a meeting.

But Holmgren is dealing with Robinson somewhat differently because of what he called "somewhat complicated issues here that not everyone is privy to." Sources say the issues are psychological and have caused Robinson problems since his two-year stay at North Carolina State, where he was suspended three times for being late to meetings or missing class.

"I'm doing what I think I have to do as his coach and/or mentor," Holmgren said. "So that's the way it is."

It seems each answer regarding Robinson's circumstances only prompts another question.

Has Robinson's habitual tardiness pushed Holmgren to the point of being discouraged that he can eventually help him?

"That remains to be seen. It really does," he said. "Am I disappointed? Yeah, I am. But I said it the other day, I'm not washing my hands of this thing. We're going to tackle it and do what we think is best for him. Then, hopefully, it will have a happy ending."

Just how fine is the line between punishing a player and having his absence punish the team?

"That's a tough one," Holmgren said. "That's the balancing act, and that's why I don't make a decision immediately when I'm emotional, because that is the question I have to ask myself all the time."

Last week, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck spent three days of practice throwing to Robinson, only to have him inactive Sunday.

"It's a little tough. It can be difficult," Hasselbeck said. "You just have to treat it like an injury. ... It's not an ideal situation."

How are his teammates treating Robinson in what could be a disruption in the days leading up to their playoff opener?

"We're all men," defensive end Chike Okeafor said after Sunday's game. "You can be influenced by your peers, but when it comes down to it, you have to make a decision. You've got to make that dedication by yourself.

"It doesn't matter how many people tell him," he added. "He's got to make that decision for himself if it's actually going to get done all the time."

Jerry Rice, the NFL's all-time leading receiver, has tried to be a positive influence on Robinson since being acquired in an October trade with the Oakland Raiders.

"All we're going to do is just try to put our arms around this guy and just hope he can get through this," Rice said yesterday. "It's not really for us to say. All we can do is just try to show him how to do it and lead by example and hope that he can catch on."