Head coach Mike McCarthy and the Packers management made it perfectly clear they did not feel comfortable with Collins playing football again after he suffered a brutal neck injury last September in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers. Collins was injured on a play involving Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart.
“If Nick was my son, I would not let him play,” said McCarthy in late March.
Collins underwent spinal fusion surgery and met with at least five different neurosurgeons to get their opinion if he would be healthy enough to return to football. Several professionals have indicated Collins should be cleared to play; however, the Packers do not want to be a part of a player getting paralyzed.
Peyton Manning underwent spinal fusion surgery last year and is set to return this season with the Denver Broncos. Many players have suffered a neck injury, had the surgery and returned to the game. However, defensive backs, particularly the safety position, are the most at risk when it comes to herniated discs. This is due to the amount of collisions that occur week in and week out. Defensive backs have to tackle wide receivers and tight ends who are typically much bigger in size. Therefore, they must exert enough force to take them down which commonly results in an injury.
I completely understand where the Packers are coming from as they do not want to be responsible for Collins reinjuring himself. The last thing they want on their conscious is Collins’ inability to ever walk again because they allowed him to suit up.
However, I still feel that if Collins has been told he can play then Green Bay should let him play. Several other defensive backs have come back from this type of injury and continued their career with no problems. Collins already stated he was going to play football again whether or not Green Bay wanted him back. This means if he is going to play anyways then the Packers should let him continue his career in green and gold.
I do not feel right releasing a player with the credentials of Collins. He has done so much for the Packer franchise and now he is being let go without even a chance to prove he can still be a factor on defense.
Collins is a three-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, NFC interceptions leader in 2008 and he intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown in Green Bay’s victory in Super Bowl XLV. He has 417 tackles, 21 interceptions and one sack in six seasons with the Packers.