So I posted to Packernation on the facebook page the question “Is Nick Collins another Johnny Jolly or too
much of a risk?” and the response prompted this post. There were so many great comments that I couldn’t even read them all but a few jumped out at me and it seemed obious to me that:
1. Nick Collins is on the minds of Packers fans everywhere.
2. There are a LOT of different opinions as to whether he should come back or not.
Here’s my breakdown of the issues involved, starting with Nick Collins’ side of things and then taking into account the Packers organizational perspective:
Nick Collins – The first concern Nick Collins should have is for Nick Collins. He suffered the injury and went through the treatments involved with a spinal fusion. It is obvious that he wants to come back, wants to live the dream, but Nick HAS to be honest with himself that IF (and I use the word if here because I am not directly privy to any of Collins’ feedback from his own doctors) the risk is paralysis, he has to weigh that risk VERY carefully. Here’s the issue – If Nick doesn’t come back to football, his wife and kids may not enjoy the security they have in the past (we all know what happens to so many big money players when the money dries up) but if Nick returns to play and is paralyzed, he ends up out of the frying pan and into the fire. Paralysis could take away everything, and I mean EVERYTHING…including the will to live. I’ve seen it! Nick, you gotta take care of yourself first. There is a big difference between making a couple tweets about how ready you are to get out and play and sticking your head in on power sweep. Just be careful man, and the rest will take care of itself.
Green Bay – When I asked if Nick Collins could be a story like Johnny Jolly’s, I meant to compare the two stories in terms of how inspirational they would be. Everybody understood that but I did make a bit of an apples to oranges comparison here because of one important factor. Johnny Jolly’s comeback did NOT involve the risk of paralysis. Johnny had to work his way back and regain the trust of the organization but if he faltered, he’d end up in jail not a hospital. Nick Collins is different in this regard.
The medical staff has already determined that the risk was great enough that they persuaded the Packer brass to release Collins. Has anything changed? It would be great if a couple years rest could make a difference in a spinal fusion but I kinda doubt it. It’s not that the Packers aren’t willing to revisit the idea of signing past players…they’ve shown a willingness to do so. But again this one is different because of the risk of paralysis. And for Green Bay it is more than just a question of covering the possibility of injury in a contract to save the franchise in case he gets hurt. This is a man’s LIFE! If Green Bay thinks the risk of paralysis is too high they are, in my opinion, ethically obligated to refuse to sign him even if they can contract in damage control.
NOTE: What affect will the Nick Collins discussion have on the Jermichael Finley talks? Hmmmmmm…
So the Packers may not even take a chance on Collins but if they do there is another barrier to overcome. Collins was released by the Packers and is therefore an unrestricted free agent looking for a team…any team. If the Packers re-evaluate Collins and he is cleared to go…the chances increase that another team could evaluate and clear him and make an offer. This is another difference between the Johnny Jolly story and Nick Collins’ – Johnny’s addiction chased other teams away and the Packers trusted him (with regular surveillance) but Collins, if cleared, becomes interesting to a LOT of teams. No trust issues, just whether he can safely play or not. Think the Dallas Cowboys or Minnesota Vikings couldn’t use a three-time Pro Bowl safety…YUCK!
So all-in-all I don’t think it’s likely that we will see Nick Collins crushing backs and receivers in our backfield again. It could happen but I think the likelihood is 25% or less. The one mulligan would be if something interesting happens with Finley…then I might think it more likely.
I know Nick wants to play and no one wants him to more than me (we wore the same number) and if it can safely happen, I SO hope it does. So we should all EXPECT the Packer brass to do their due dilligence on this one. That’s one thing that is no in doubt…we need help back there. I just don’t see it.