Just like that, it was over.
It was an abrupt and all too soon ending to the career of Nick Collins in Green Bay. It was a career that gave fans a play in Super Bowl XLV that will be in their memory banks forever and Collins was arguably the best safety the Green Bay Packers have had since Leroy Butler retired.
Unfortunately, thanks to a poor hand dealt by the football gods, Collins’ days as a Packer (and perhaps even an NFL player) came to an end at a time of neither his nor the Packers’ choosing even though it was the Packers that released him.
Thanks to a frightening neck injury suffered in Week 2 last season against the Carolina Panthers, the Packers felt like playing Collins again would be too much of a health risk for the safety so they released him with Collins’ long-term health foremost in their minds.
Since that day, little has been heard from Collins regarding his future in the NFL. A comeback with the Packers won’t happen given the selection of Jerron McMillan in the fourth round of this spring’s NFL draft.
So what is to become of Collins? There are a few theories.
The one that seems to be the most popular is that Collins will, or more accurately should, call it a career and not risk further injury. A neck injury is not something that should be messed around with and that it takes only one more hit to have severe long-term repercussions including the possibility of some form of paralysis. While Collins may be able to get back into playing shape, it is unclear if he will ever be able to return to his All Pro form before the injury occurred.
Even if Collins does want to play, will any of the other 31 teams want to take a risk on him? With such an increased focus in NFL circles about head and neck injuries (including a lawsuit by a collection of former players), can they pay Collins even just the veteran minimum and maintain a clean conscience about what they are potentially exposing him too?