JERSEY CITY, N.J. — He went from Sports Illustrated All-Pro to being out of football in a span of less than eight months, his liver and kidneys having almost completely shut down.
At one point, after losing 30 pounds last summer, Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson even began to wonder if he'd be losing much more than just his job.
But almost as quickly as he developed an initially mysterious and life-threatening illness, the Penn State honors graduate recovered and slowly but surely worked his way back to his primary position at the front of Marshawn Lynch's power runs.
Never mind that it was the team's prescribed medication (Indocin) that made him ill in the first place. Or that he had to be cut before the regular season began. Or that he was brought back making less money.
No Seahawk is more grateful to be at the Super Bowl than Robinson, considering all he's been through to get here.
That was evident when tears streamed down his face at the end of the NFC Championship Game.
"I've gotten a lot of questions about me crying," Robinson said in a press conference at the team hotel on Monday. "I had a long year, man, being cut, being sick, not really realizing the extent of the sickness. I didn't know that my kidneys were failing and that my liver was failing. I had no idea. I just thought I was getting a bug."
Medical ordeal: Robinson was prescribed Indocin as an anti-inflammatory drug to deal with a variety of aches and pains that come with the collisions he induces as Lynch's de facto personal protector.
Problem was that, unbeknownst to Robinson and the doctors who initially examined him after he started developing flu-like symptoms, it was the drug that was shutting his body down, not a virus.
"I went to the hospital three separate times," he said. "Two times they sent me home and just told me to keep getting fluids. They hadn't seen anything like this. Once we brought the liver specialist in, the kidney specialist in, they've seen these types of reactions before, and they were all over it."
But a little too late to prevent Robinson from being waived due to uncertainty over whether he could play at all in 2013 or beyond.
That Robinson was able to separate the business aspect from the personal aspect of the pro game is what led him back to the Seahawks after considering offers from the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans.
"If you think there's loyalty in this business, shame on you," he said. "It just is what it is. I wrestled with [coming back to Seattle], but it was easy when I looked at my relationship with the guys on the team. That's why you play this game. And I felt a big reason why we're here is that every man in the locker room thinks the same way.
"We all play because of the guy next to you. You all perform because the guy next to you is counting on you. Peer accountability, that's the biggest thing."
Tears of joy: Hence the tears at the end of a hard-fought triumph over his former team, the San Francisco 49ers.
"Probably there were moments when Michael thought he might not ever get another chance," coach Pete Carroll said. "So when we did come back to him and we were able to get it together and all, it was very meaningful for Michael. He is a big factor on our team because we don't have that many older guys and he really stands for the old guard. He's been a big factor on special teams as well.
"You can see the emotion come out of Michael. He's the guy that never thought, `maybe I'll never get this chance again.' Then he comes back to play and he gets to play in the Super Bowl. I totally get it and respect it."
Robinson had been preparing for life after football until he recovered, content with the fact that he did all he could and made the best of a career that started out with a position change after playing quarterback and wide receiver at Penn State, leading the team to the Big Ten title and Orange Bowl appearance. He made just 11 starts in his first five seasons in the NFL, but made the Pro Bowl in his sixth.
Though he played in just nine regular-season games in 2013, he has seemingly returned to form for the playoffs, starting both games. In the first, he helped Lynch set the franchise single-game playoff rushing record with 140 yards.
"It was nice to see him back," tight end Zach Miller said. "Obviously he's such a leader in the locker room. He's a presence, guys listen to him, he's been around, he knows how to be a professional."