NFL suspends Robinson for one year

Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 10:29 pm
By: News On 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Green Bay Packers wide receiver Koren Robinson was suspended without pay Tuesday for a minimum of one year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

The league's action came hours after Robinson pleaded not guilty to charges of drunken driving and fleeing police stemming from a high-speed chase in August.

Robinson's agent, Alvin Keels, said in a telephone interview he was surprised the league didn't wait until after Robinson's legal issues in Minnesota had been resolved to issue the suspension.

Keels said Robinson was disappointed by the decision.

``He seems to be handling it well,'' Keels said. ``I think he's in a state of shock right now. We thought the league would wait. But obviously, they're trying to make a statement.''

Robinson, who said Monday that he expected to play in the Packers' game in Miami on Sunday and didn't think his legal troubles would affect his playing status this year, did not immediately respond to a message left on his cell phone by The Associated Press.

Keels said the reason given for the suspension was the league believed Robinson consumed alcohol on the night he was arrested in Minnesota. Under the terms of the league's substance abuse policy, officials didn't have to wait for Robinson's court case to be resolved to suspend him.

Speaking at a news conference in Green Bay, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Robinson had an appeal hearing with the league by conference call Monday.

Under the terms of the suspension, McCarthy said Robinson would not be allowed to work out or practice with the team. McCarthy said he wasn't even sure if he was allowed to talk to Robinson while he was suspended.

``I really have never been involved in this process before, but my understanding is, we're not allowed to be involved as an organization,'' McCarthy said. ``Just in respect to the NFL guidelines, we will follow those guidelines.''

Packers general manger Ted Thompson, who signed Robinson to a two-year deal last month, was on a scouting trip and unavailable for comment.

Keels said the fact the Packers knew Robinson could face a league suspension when they signed him, plus the fact they signed him for more than a year, was a sign they would take him back next year after he becomes eligible to be reinstated.

``I definitely think that it's a situation to where he'll more than likely be welcomed back,'' Keels said.

But, Keels said, ``A year's a long time, so we'll just have to see what happens.''

Robinson caught seven passes for 89 yards and averaged 21.1 yards on 12 kickoff returns in four games for the Packers this year. He is eligible to be reinstated no sooner than Sept. 18, 2007.

The suspension leaves the Packers without a proven No. 3 receiver. Robert Ferguson remains on crutches after injuring his foot in the Packers' Oct. 2 game at Philadelphia. Ferguson will undergo more tests this week, McCarthy said.

McCarthy expressed confidence that first-year receiver Ruvell Martin and other players would be able to contribute in Robinson's absence.

Robinson is a Pro Bowl-caliber kickoff returner and talented receiver, but his history of off-field troubles with alcohol played a role in his exit from Seattle and Minnesota.

Robinson was briefly taken into custody after his court hearing in St. Peter, Minn., earlier Tuesday because of a warrant for a previous traffic violation. He was released a short time later, after his attorney went to a bank to withdraw $1,000 to post bond.

The more serious charges came when Robinson was with the Minnesota Vikings. His car topped 100 mph as police chased him from St. Peter to the Vikings' training camp headquarters in Mankato on Aug. 15. Police say Robinson's blood-alcohol content was 0.11 percent, well above the legal limit of 0.08.

The Vikings cut Robinson after the August incident, and he signed with the Packers in September.

This month, Robinson was sentenced to three months in jail for violating probation on a separate drunken-driving case in Kirkland, Wash., last year. He plans to serve the sentence after the season.

Robinson already had been suspended for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy in 2004.

St. Peter is about 57 miles southwest of Minneapolis, and about 10 miles north of Mankato.