SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Getting to the Super Bowl takes years of hard work and sweat for the players who reach the game.
Surviving the week of lead-up before the game proved too challenging for a handful of players. Off-field transgressions led to Stanley Wilson and Barret Robbins missing the biggest games of their careers. Eugene Robinson played the Super Bowl after his arrest, but allowed two big plays that did in the Atlanta Falcons.
Wilson had already served two suspensions for drug use when he was found in his Miami hotel room in a cocaine-induced stupor the night before his Cincinnati Bengals lost to San Francisco 20-16 in 1989. Wilson was immediately suspended and never played again, while his teammates were left to wonder whether the absence of Cincinnati’s third-leading rusher played a role in a loss that went down to the final minute.
Ten years after Wilson’s relapse, Robinson was arrested the day before the Falcons lost to Denver for soliciting a prostitute. The Falcons safety had just received the Bart Starr Award for “high moral character,” with his family in attendance. Robinson played the game but might wish he hadn’t. He allowed an 80-yard TD pass to Rod Smith and missed a tackle on a long run by Terrell Davis.
Oakland’s All-Pro center disappeared the day before the game in 2003 from the team’s San Diego hotel and headed to Tijuana, Mexico. He returned that night disoriented, spent game day in the hospital, and his life and career spiraled downward into substance-abuse clinics and jail time. The Raiders’ offense struggled in his absence, committing five turnovers and rushing for just 19 yards in a 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay.
— Defensive end Bruce Smith’s diatribe about racism before the Bills lost Super Bowl 26.
— Receiver Terrell Owens’ consistent complaining about his quarterback, Donovan McNabb, after the Eagles fell to New England in Super Bowl 39.
— Patriots coach Bill Belichick prematurely walking onto the field with time left and the clock stopped before the Giants made their final kneel-down in Super Bowl in Super Bowl 42.