It is so easy to tell somebody else what to do. You can always justify it by saying it is in his best interest or by simply claiming it would be better for all those involved.
Well, in this case both of the aforementioned applies, but I am not certain all the principles regarding the matter are on the same page and that could certainly make matters worse for Austin Collie, the sure-handed, gritty receiver who in the absence of the injured Dallas Clark, has become both the favorite target as well as a security blanket for one Peyton Manning.
Collie suffered a terrible blow to the head against Jacksonville on Dec. 19 and sustained a concussion in the process. This marks the second time in just over six weeks he has encountered serious head trauma, and while many simply attribute it to the violent nature of the game of football, there can be no mistake that the responsibility for the second concussion lies directly at the feet of the Colts organization, as they should have in my humble opinion, benched Collie for the balance of the season as well as any possible playoff contests.
While the Colts will not comment on the matter and would not make Collie available to the media, it is clear that he was vulnerable after the initial concussion that occurred in early November and as a result, should not have been on the playing field against Jacksonville on Dec. 19.
Collie undoubtedly was cleared by the Colts medical staff, who I am certain consulted with some great specialists to assure everyone that he was fit to return to game action. He further solidified their assessments by performing well before the second concussion was sustained.
But the real question here is did Collie have the benefit of a second and perhaps even third opinion, and why did he look to return at all this season after the first concussion?
I spoke to two Colts players who told me Collie did not know where he was on the team plane back from Philadelphia on Nov. 7, and even for days afterwards had problems with his memory and severe headache pain.
Why in the world was he allowed to play again this season after sitting out just six weeks? Before you say hindsight is perfect, ask yourself with all the NFL scrutiny this season regarding concussions, why any player would take the risk himself? Perhaps the pressure to keep a roster spot and the accompanying paycheck has something to do with it, but clearly the Colts mishandled the situation in hopes that his presence would bolster their offensive scheme and get them back on the playoff track.
Former players such as Troy Aikman, Jim McMahon, and Merril Hoge have all spoken out in recent months about the price they paid by playing too long after experiencing concussions and sustaining additional ones along the way. Collie needs to retire if he does not want to end up like those before him who ignored the obvious risks and continued to play. Chances are the NFL will not remember him after he is retired, but will Collie remember anything at all after the next concussion?
Most NFL contracts are not guaranteed and money always plays a big role in the decisions a player makes, but how do you put a price on something that really shouldn’t be for sale? Collie has been a solid player and is a talented athlete, but he should walk away and enjoy his family without risking his life as we know it today any further. He will eventually realize no regrets from that decision, but those who care about him may very well regret it if he doesn’t. I just hope the only football he ever plays again is in the back yard with his children.
Danny Bridges, who thinks a player will someday win millions from the NFL in court regarding problems stemming from concussions, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.