If Nick Collins Wants to Play, Let Him Play

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Nick Collins left the Panthers game on a stretcher after suffering a neck injury in the 4th quarter.
Nick Collins after suffering a neck injury versus the Panthers

Tom Silverstein of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote yesterday about how Green Bay Packers’ safety Nick Collins hopes that he’ll be able to return for the 2012 season.  While the ultimate decision will be made by Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson regarding Collins’ future, the basic fact still remains that Collins wants to play, if he can.

And if Collins wants to play, then let him play.  One look at the defensive unit from the 2011 season and it’s pretty clear to see that the Packers could use Collin’s playmaking ability back on the field.

Not only was Collins a leader for the defense, he was also one of the most consistent performers and a perennial Pro Bowl player.  That type of talent isn’t replaced overnight.  Heck, that type of talent isn’t replaced over a year, or even two years.

If Collins isn’t 100 percent healthy and ready to go, then he shouldn’t play.  No one would criticize him for that decision.  No one would consider him less of a man, or less of a football player.  We’re talking about a man’s life and health and that trumps football every single time.

However, if Collins is completely healthy, gets the go-ahead from numerous doctors and the Packers won’t let him return, that is an entirely different matter.  Not allowing someone to do what they want takes away free will.  Without free will, we have nothing.

We’re all familiar with how McCarthy feels about the return of Collins.  Jason Wilde from ESPN wrote back in March on how McCarthy wouldn’t let him play if he was his son.  Collins clearly isn’t McCarthy’s son, but the statement still gave great insight as to how McCarthy might lean when making his decision on Collins’ future.

If Collins was my son, and the doctors said he was at full strength, and he told me he wanted to play, I’d let him play in a heartbeat. Hopefully Thompson and McCarthy, when the ultimate decision needs to be made, have the same fatherly instincts.


  • Do I want to see Nick Collins play for the Packers in 2012? Absolutely. I don’t think there is a Packer fan out there who would think differently.

    Do I think he should play in 2012? No I don’t.

    The question Collins is going to have to answer isn’t whether he wants to play. Of course he does-all players WANT to play. The issue is whether he should play.

    Collins is a young man with a lot of life left to live that does not involve football. Even if the doctors clear him to play, does he want to risk the potential for long term health issues? That is the question only he can answer. In my opinion, the risk outweighs the reward, and he should move on from his playing career. As much as he may want to play, I hope the fact he does not need to play wins the battle.

    • cow42

      if doctors tell him that he is at no more of a risk than any other nfl safety, would you still feel the same way?

      if so, why?

      would you advocate for all nfl safeties to retire immediately because “the risk outweighs the reward”?

      • Mojo

        Exactly Cow. If Collins is at the same or very nearly the same risk as any other player then why not play if that’s what he wants to do? Else, the NFL should just consider folding the tent because lets face it, you cannot give any player 100% assurance they won’t get injured and perhaps seriously injured.

      • PackersRS

        If more than 1 doctor, including my own (team), said there’s zero risk, personally I’d let him play.

        If any doctor said there’s a minimal risk, no way. Potential paralysis. Not only for his sake, but for the franchise’s sake as well (huge liability cause).

        I said before though, I want him to play for my own selfish reasons, hypocrisy notwithstanding.

        • Mojo

          Sorry RS, first there isn’t a credible doctor in the world who would say there’s zero risk. And because there’s at least minimal risk for every player in the league I guess we’re going to have to shut ‘er down.

          • PackersRS

            Not the same mojo. We’re talking improved risk of paralysis due to the injury.

          • PackersRS

            If I can think about the risk, imagine what the NFLPA would do with it. It would take compelling evidence that there’s no risk for him to play (I know, negative proof).

        • Oppy

          Nowhere at any time has there been any talk from the doctors or surgeons of increased risk of potential paralysis due to Nick’s injury and surgery.

          All this paralysis stuff is fan reaction to seeing Collins laid out on the turf and the fact it’s his neck. He suffered a bulging disc. He had numbness and tingling in his body, but he never lost function or movement. There is no narrowing of the spinal column.

          Where the disc has been removed and the vertebrae have been fused, there is almost zero chance of further injury- it’s been strengthened by bone graft. And experts say that with it only a single fusion (as opposed to double), Collins should regain nearly all flexibility and mobility in his neck, which means minimal stress put on the lower and upper columns.

          There isn’t any data that has been presented that suggests his procedure increases risk of re-injury, future neck injury, or a heightened risk of paralysis compared to the risk already present and inherent in playing SS in the NFL.

          We’ll find out more when decisions are made, but reports out of GB are that Collins in around the facilities optimistically awaiting the start of OTAs.. He wants to play, and he’s already seen the doctors as of last week. He’s been on record and saying if the Docs say he’s at risk, it’s a no go. That leads me to believe Nick’s Doctors have said he’s good; now it’s up to TT, MM, and Dr. Pat McKenzie to put approval on it.

          • PackersRS

            If that were the case there would be no questions about the possibility of Collins returning, nor would MM ever say that, if he was his son, he would advise Collins to retire.

            It’s pretty clear there’s a real possibility of a grave situation occuring due to this injury. Paralysis may not be the situation, but saying there’s no possibility of further risk, life threatening or at least life altering risk, due to the injury/surgery is absurd Oppy.

            • Oppy

              According to Dr. Hsu’s paper, the prognosis for return to the NFL and playing for 3 more years is pretty good…

              MM and TT are regular people, too, and I’m sure seeing nick laid out scared the crap out of them, too. Ultimately, Dr. Pat McKenzie is the guy that will more than likely make the final call. If TT or MM is making the decision, I truly believe it will be about doubts that Nick will perform at a high enough level post-op to warrant keeping him on the roster (that would be MM’s call), or that Collin’s cap numbers are going to mess up the Packers’ roster plans (that would be TT’s call).

              In either of those scenarios, it would be a case of TT/MM using Nick’s injury as an easy-out to let him go without having to say “We don’t think you’re the same player” or asking a pro-bowl defensive leader of your team coming off a neck injury to take a pay cut…

              • PackersRS

                “According to Dr. Hsu’s paper, the prognosis for return to the NFL and playing for 3 more years is pretty good…”

                Yes. Except for DBs.

              • Oppy

                You are completely wrong.

                Dr. Hsu comments that DB’s are more represented in his research than any other position, due to the fact that DBs suffer more neck injuries than other positions.

                He does not state or imply that DB’s are less likely to return to the game after the procedure, or more likely to have shorter careers after the procedure.

                In fact, seeing how his paper was about the percentage of players who have the procedure and go on to successfull return to the game, and the fact that the average post-op career is 3 years…One could expect a DB to be more likely to meet these criteria than other positions simply because they constituted a larger percentage of the sample size.

              • PackersRS

                No, Oppy.

                ““What was surprising was that the position you played mattered,” Dr. Hsu said. “Defensive backs seemed to be overrepresented in the population.” Outcomes for the defensive backs were significantly poorer compared to other positions. Among defensive backs who sustained CDH and were treated surgically, just half (6 of 12) returned to play. They participated in 17 games over a 1.85-year period. Of the 19 defensive backs who sustained CDH and were treated nonsurgically, just 7 returned to play, and their careers were limited to just 6 games in less than 1 year.”


  • Tarynfor 12

    If TT and MM decide NOT to allow Collins to play in Green Bay,how is that taking away his FREE WILL.He’ll be FREE to play somewhere else IF he can find a team that will chance the risk.
    Sometimes it becomes necessary to PROTECT someone from their FREE WILL by simply not rolling the dice for them.
    There are 31 other teams he can hope will roll the dice and absorb the angst of waiting for that picture of him strapped to a gurney…

    • PackersRS

      As I said before, there’s the issue of liability, even if it’s his own will to play.

      If he’s not cleared by GB, I doubt any team will sign him.

      • Tarynfor 12

        We didn’t think Al Harris could play but Miami thought otherwise..to their dismay not ours.

        • PackersRS

          He hurt his knee, not his neck. Not the same case.

          It’s not about playing or not. It’s about spinal injury and the potential of, if not Nick himself, the NFLPA suing the NFL and the Packers.

          If they’re doing with head traumas caused by normal collisions, you can bet they’ll do it in this case.

          • Tarynfor 12

            You do know I’m on your side here.I’ve said,there is more to this just just the DR saying OK.

  • Adam Czech

    Any one of us could step out of our house tomorrow and get hit by a bus. Hopefully we’re taking the precautions and steps necessary to avoid getting hit by a bus, but you never know.

    Collins should be taking those same steps with his injury. Listen to his doctors. Consult with his family. Talk to former players. Be open-minded when McCarthy and Thompson weigh in. Then make his decision.

    If the doctors say there’s no more injury risk than there was before, I’m fine with him playing. I just hope he takes all the steps and precautions necessary before reaching that decision.

  • Bearmeat

    Amen. Let the man play if he’s medically cleared and wants to do so.

    Injury is a risk all football players take. From what I’ve read, Nick likelihood of reinjury to that vertebrae is almost nil.

    Let the man play.

    • Nostrodomus

      From what I’ve seen, it’s not the risk to the same vertebrae, but the adjoining disc’s that would be subjected to alot more stress because of the fusion. It’s like replacing 2 with steel. The other vertebrae on each end of the steel absorb MUCH more stress than the steel. There is NO way ANYone can say “he’s no worse off than any other safety”. He’s already there.

  • Bubbaloo

    Does anyone here (besides me) have a spinal fusion? I have two, one of them is 1 notch below where Collins has his, the other is much lower. Both are 30+ years old. All of my life I have done everything my Doctors told me I could NEVER do again, including years of Snowmobile and then Moto-cross racing. (And of course a lot of crashing) Do I have pain today, damned straight I do! I’m nearly 60 now, would I change anything, Not A Chance! If the Doctors say he can play, let the man play!

    • Adam Czech

      My dad has one. He does pretty much everything he did before the surgery. He’s weaker and he gets sore more often than before, but if you told him he couldn’t cut down trees and drag animals that he shoots out of the woods any more, he would ignore you anyway.

      • Tarynfor 12

        Can you post a picture of your Dad running into the tree head first as his chopping tool or doing a head to head butt with the deer his hunting to take it down.
        C’mon,not a good comparison.

        • Adam Czech

          I’d be willing to bet people who drag trees out of the woods for a living have just as many long-term health issues than football playes. Wood haulers just don’t get paid millions of dollars and show up on Sports Center every night.

          • Tarynfor 12

            Please tell what wood hauling,tree chopping,animal dragging and not getting paid millions for it has to do with the Collins injury and how it was obtained.

            • Oppy


              since you’re bound and determined to make this a debate, you also have to factor in that I absolutely GUARANTEE that neither Bubbaloo nor Adam’s father received the most current state of the art procedures performed by the absolute best surgeons and doctors in sports medicine that money can buy. I Guarantee they didn’t receive the most comprehensive, round the clock rehab and personal trainers, dieticians, etc that money can buy to help them through recovery. I can also assume that neither Bubbaloo nor Adam’s father are world-class athletes, either.

              Yet, there they are: Bubbaloo with a surgery that is 30+ years old and outdated, and Adam’s father, both doing physical things that doctors said couldn’t be done. Sure, they’re not playing SS in the NFL, but they also didn’t receive the same care and conditioning, either.

              Um, btw, Dr. Hsu’s paper reported that about 70% of NFL players who have this procedure return to play in the league and go on to have an average post-op career length of 3 years.. That’s slighly longer than the overall average NFL career. Food for thought.

  • Ron LC

    I am not a doctor or do I play one on TV. The decision is the docs. What ever they decide Collins and the Packers should both agree to.

    It’s not as complex as we are making it!

    • Bubbaloo

      Agreed Ron, every player on that field is at risk every play, Collins is no different. If it were his lower back, which can suffer the same consequences, nobody would be talking about this. He’d just Come Back!

      • Oppy

        Bubbaloo, absolutely spot on about the back.

        In fact, think about this:

        Nick Collins is a fool for even considering returning to the NFL with his surgically repaired injury.


        People are stupid.

        • Oppy

          I see that putting the truth out there isn’t very popular.

          Oh well, I forgot how fun it was for so many people to hate a kid who worked his ass off and tried to do everything in his power to overcome injury to play for the Green Bay Packers.

          Just remember, he could have just retired with his severe back injury. His doctors said they couldn’t do anything for him. He CHOSE to go find 2nd and 3rd opinions. He CHOSE to do alternative therapies and procedures. He could have just hung it up.

          Some fans make me sick.

    • PackersRS

      Unfortunately it may be because it may be a situation where there’s no consensus regarding Nick’s status, seeing that not only his own specialist but the Packers’ are going to evaluate him.

      I get the point, though, it is on the doctors mostly.

  • Nostrodomus

    Oops. Meant to post this here, not to reply on Bearmeats post. Why didn’t I see that coming?:
    From what I’ve seen, it’s not the risk to the same vertebrae, but the adjoining disc’s that would be subjected to alot more stress because of the fusion. It’s like replacing 2 with steel. The other vertebrae on each end of the steel absorb MUCH more stress than the steel. There is NO way ANYone can say “he’s no worse off than any other safety”. He’s already there.

  • SchenySchen

    Not to be a Badger rube, but does anyone else think taking Aaron Henry from Sconny with one of our 4th round comp picks would be a good move. Based on his history as a corner, he has decent coverage for a safety. Has only played S for one season and thus could improve his skill at that position with some grooming. He is a solid tackler and a pretty good hitter as well. 2 seasons learning from Collins could benefit him immensely. I think his upside is pretty high considering his inexperience with the position. GoPack!

  • Tarynfor 12

    Amazing how almost everybody is ignoring that TT has to do whats best for the Organization and if that includes releasing Collins for that good so be it.Collins can,should and will if choses to play or not somewhere else which happens often,even when injury isn’t involved.
    There’s more to this IMO than Collins simply saying HE wants to play as the end all.

    • Ron LC

      Why, if the Docs say OK, would it be the best for the Packers to release Collins? I don’t get it.

      • cow42

        losing collins to another team would be in the best interest of the Packers… yeah – that doesn’t make any sense.

        • Tarynfor 12

          There were those that said the same thing about Al Harris.We need him,can’t let him go to another team,it’ll come back to bite us…and yet.TT did,Harris did and we didn’t get bit.
          Yes ,every situation is different and yet the same.

          • cow42

            They brought harris back. he wasn’t any good anymore so they let him go.

            If they bring collins back and he can’t play then I’m all for letting him go.

            But if he can still play and he still wants to play and dr’s say it’s ok for him to play then why on earth would they let him play for someone else?

            • Tarynfor 12

              Harris rehabed and I believe he passed his physical but the decision was to release him and he then signed and played with Miami.
              The injury to Collins is different than Harris yes,but the questions of ability to play and in the case of Collins can be devastating and raises a question of what kind of injury draws the line for safety sake.
              From a ORG point in a violent sport,does the risk of one getting crippled via a previous injury worth the risk of letting him play a GAME.
              As for his career,high risk-high reward but saying an ORG has to let him play because he is willing to chance it,is a decision each team has a right to decline and rightfully so.

              • cow42

                1 – harris was in camp. they didn’t let him go until they saw that he lost skills.

                2 – you’re completely missing my point. i’m only in favor of letting him play if dr’s can confirm that he is at no more risk than any other safety playing in the nfl. if his current injury increases the possibility of an additional neck injury then i don’t think he should come back.

                if dr’s say he’s healthy and there’s no additional/increased risk, why on earth wouldn’t the packers let him play?

          • Bubbaloo

            Harris was placed on IR by Miami within 2-3 weeks of signing him, he wasn’t ready or healthy enough to play! There is absolutely NO comparison between Harris and Collins, their health, or their injuries!

      • Tarynfor 12

        Just think that TT will look at many aspects other than a DRs ok to make a decision.It can’t possibly be that cut and dry.Sorry,I don’t buy that it is or can be.IMO

        • Adam Czech

          What else should TT be looking at?

          • Oppy

            Adam, to be fair, maybe the Packers miscalculated Nick’s chances for a return and his salary cap numbers were not expected to be on the books any longer….

            Wouldn’t that be a colossal mess up?

            Likely, no.

            Possible? yes.

  • Mojo

    Off the subject a little – MM is getting a lot of sensitivity points for the “if it were your son” comments. But in truth it was TT who originally posed the question to MM. Also, I believe on the Favre situation, TT took a lot of flax from the fans, when in fact it was much more MM’s decision to move on with ARod. I think if MM wanted Favre back TT would have been fine with it. None of this is meant to diminish MM, but to better put in context of what TT is like.

    I believe TT having played roughly 10 years in the NFL has a lot of empathy for what players go through. I think years after he’s gone from GB we’re going to find out what an exceptionally decent person TT was. A lot of small people have taken pot-shots at him as being ego-driven etc., but I think history will bear this out; that whether a decision he made regarding personnel panned-out or not, it was made with the best interests of the GB Packers in mind.

    • Oppy


      to any fan who actually pays attention to what not only Packers front office states about its philosophy and day-to-day approach to running the franchise, but also to the players who actually work for the Packers, it’s crystal clear that they are a first-class organization that actually values their employees as human beings with families and lives outside of football, not merely paid to perform athletic freaks of nature.

      Those people who claimed TT was an egomaniac, etc, etc, were simply idiotic fan boys who didn’t, or wouldn’t, see the big picture. In regards to TT specifically, he has always been renowned across the league as a humble, stand-up football guy, period. It was all manufactured vitriol, nothing more, nothing less.

      You nailed it with “small people”.

  • Bubbaloo

    I am truly amazed at how many people on this site know more about spinal fusion and neck injuries than the doctors do. I wish I had that much knowledge and earning potential!

  • Mark

    If Nick Collins can’t return to the NFL football field as a player, I say the Packers should make him in a assistant DB coach offer immedietly, and let his coaching career begin, with the team that he helped win a Championship. I think Nick Collins could be a stud of a coach after some years of coaching experience. He may not be able to play football anymore, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do the next best thing, and start his NFL coaching career.

    • Oppy


      there’s nothing about a players performance that can be a clear indication of his ability to teach and coach.

      Not saying that Nick DOESN’T have the ability to do it, mind you. Just saying we, as fans, don’t have any type of vantage point to assess if he has the knack or not.

      Keep in mind, he was apparently around the team and sitting in meetings, helping out Burnett and Peprah, all season long. It didn’t help them much.

  • Mike M

    I would love to see Collins play, but his health and wellbeing is the most important. He has a long life to live football should be put aside for a healthy life. We will miss Collins but better to miss him than mourn him.