By Steve Gorten/Special to the Palm Beach Post
AVENTURA — There’s more at stake Sunday for Kansas City Chiefs receiver Demarcus Robinson than a sparkling championship ring.
Sure, the blinding bling would be the ultimate NFL keepsake for the former University of Florida standout. But Super Bowl LIV also serves as a showcase for Robinson, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this spring and could set himself up for a prime payday with a dazzling performance.
Robinson’s fourth pro season already has been the best of his career. Overshadowed by the Chiefs’ array of offensive stars, he snagged 32 passes for 449 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season, and three passes for 35 yards in the team’s two playoff games combined.
“I always knew I had it in me and I’ve always been willing to show it,” said Robinson, who caught an 89-yard bomb last season for Patrick Mahomes’s 50th career touchdown pass. “And I’m glad I’ve gotten the opportunity to show it this year.”
“He busted his butt all off-season,” said teammate Tyreek Hill. “He came in with the mindset (this year) that he’s not going to be denied this year. And that’s the kind of mindset you’ve got to have.”
Most of Robinson’s production in the regular season came while Hill sat out four games after injuring his clavicle in the opener. The two receivers have formed a close relationship since the Chiefs drafted Robinson in the fourth round, and Hill in the fifth, in the 2016 NFL draft — in part because both Georgia natives slipped in the draft due to off-the-field issues.
“We had a chip on our shoulder coming into the league,” Robinson said.
In Hill’s first game sidelined this season, Robinson caught six passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders. He grabbed 10 for 109 yards and two scores the next three games combined.
“It just gave me a lot of opportunity to show coaches, and more so the league, what I can do,” Robinson said. “Just letting them know I can make plays, and if they need me to step in and make plays then, I could.”
Robinson caught 106 passes for 1,355 yards and nine touchdowns in three seasons (2013-15) at Florida, including a school-record tying 15 for 216 and two touchdowns in a triple-overtime win against Kentucky in 2014 — the best receiving game by a Gator in 12 years. However, he was also suspended three times for failing a drug test due to marijuana and once for a violation of team rules.
Those troubles behind him, Robinson’s now poised to play in the biggest game of his life.
“It’s surreal,” Robinson said. “I just remember playing in my own Super Bowl in the park. And now I’m doing it in real life.”
As for the importance of Sunday’s game to his future, “I’m just living in the moment right now and having fun with it,” he said. “I don’t think it’s all about stats. My game shows what I can do on the field. I feel like I could be a No. 1 or No. 2 guy on another team when that time does come, if it comes. I feel like I could do it here (with the Chiefs).”