Robbie Tobeck has played through all sorts of injuries this season and in years past. He had elbow surgery during training camp. He sprained a knee against Oakland. There probably isn’t a body part that hasn’t been injured during the 88-game starting streak that ended against the Rams on Sunday. Playing through pain is one thing. Playing when you’re too-weak-to-make-a-fist sick is another. They gave him IVs on Sunday morning in a last-ditch effort to get him ready, but there’s not much a guy can do if he’s having trouble getting out of bed.
Which reminds me of a hilarious story about the time Tobeck played against the Redskins after having been sick all week. Steve Raible told the story in the book I helped him write a few years ago. I’ve pasted a few passages below.
Robbie Tobeck was sicker than a dog. Make that sicker than a horse. The Seahawks’ affable center developed some sort of infection, possibly from the horses his family raises, and the ailment was threatening to keep him out of the lineup.
This was seven weeks into the 2001 season and the Seahawks, at 3-3, needed a victory at Washington to creep above .500. Robbie didn’t practice that week, but he gutted it out come Sunday. Unfortunately for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Robbie suffered a major-league accident as he fired out of his stance on the first offensive series.
One of the very next plays called for the shotgun formation, but crowd noise at FedEx Field forced Hasselbeck to cozy up under center. Matt knew something was wrong, but he couldn’t quite put his nose on it. He gained a more complete understanding when one of the trainers offered some advice.
"Hey, I’d stop licking your hands if I’m you."
The trainer came over a little later with a slick, clear disinfectant. Rubbed it all over Matt’s hands. Before long, Matt was losing a fumble and tossing two interceptions – all in the first half. One pass slipped from Darrell Jackson’s grasp, right to a defender.
Coach Mike Holmgren lost his temper at halftime, Matt lost his job for the second half and Seattle lost the game, 27-14.
Thankfully, the equipment guys didn’t lose their sense of humor. Upon returning to FedEx Field in 2003, they rigged Tobeck’s locker with Depends Undergarments on the Saturday before the game. Robbie wore them, too, leading to a hilarious scene as Holmgren passed through.
Exactly what a head coach needs to see: one of his team captains parading around the locker room in an adult diaper.
NOTE 1: Tobeck played 16 games in nine of the previous 11 seasons. He missed 12 games in 2000 after suffering a ruptured patella tendon. He missed one game with Atlanta in 1999. Not counting 2000, he has started 166 of a possible 169 regular-season games dating to the 1995 season. Wednesday should be fun in the locker room. I’m thinking Matt Hasselbeck might have a few cracks about Tobeck missing the game with a tummy ache.
NOTE 2: The assumption is that Tobeck is not suffering from some sort of serious ailment and that he’ll be back on his feet this week. Holmgren described his symptoms as flu-like and did not seem particularly concerned. We would not make light of his condition if we had reason to believe this was a serious ailment.