Normally bad things can happen when you release the safety, such as on a gun, but I think the Green Bay Packers did the right thing in releasing Safety Nick Collins. And that is a hard thing for me to say, considering the positive impact he had on the Defense and what the loss of him meant last season and for all seasons to come now. But then, I think most fans have learned to trust the Packers front office. This time the Packers made the right decision for the player – the man and his family – rather than for the needs of the team, and showed why they are a First Class organization in all manners.
Collins, who was selected by the Packers with the first of two second-round selections (No. 51 overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft, went on to appear in 95 games (all starts) at free safety during his seven-year career in Green Bay. His full accomplishments can be seen here, but put simply he was a Pro-Bowl and – if he had a full career – possibly a Hall of Fame player.
Last year he suffered a season- and it now appears career- ending neck injury. After Collins went through surgery and having numerous medical opinions sought out, the Packers made the tough decision to let Collins go so that he could return to his family and live a full life and not risk further injury that could be life-altering. Packers General Manager Ted Thompson said “In the end, we were not comfortable clearing him to play again. As with all of our players, Nick is a member of our family and we thought of him that way as we came to this conclusion.” With recent news of organizations doing shady things, some that could end a player’s career, it is nice to see one with the best interests of their own players in mind even if it will mean a drop off in overall team talent.
Now the tougher decision comes for Collins. Another team could pick him up, but I hope for Collins’ sake he decides to stay out of football. Who knows what is going through his head, and what is said in private among family, and it must be hard for a player to give up what they love – as we have seen with other players not to be named – but this is a serious injury and the risks seem to outweigh the possible rewards of a few more seasons that could come to a disastrous end. I am no medical expert, don’t know what the experts did say, and don’t know how Collins feels physically, but as a man with a family that loves him I hope he makes the right decision for his family. If he comes back to another team and plays well I will not begrudge him, and will still think the Packers made the right decision, but if he retires he retires on top having been one of the best players at his position during the time he played and there’s no shame in that. Better that than the ones that try to hang on too long.
I will greatly miss watching Collins on the field, but it seems he is as good off the field (check out his Nick Collins JumpStart Foundation) and has a promising future in any other endeavor. As Thompson said “He is a good man and will always be part of the Packers family.”