The positive is that Colts wide receiver Austin Collie, who suffered multiple concussions last year, expects to return in 2011. The negative is Collie seems to think the boogeyman known as 'the media' said he wasn't going to return, despite the fact that no one involved with this 'media' creature ever wrote or said Collie wasn't coming back.
For the first time since, I believe, he suffered his concussion in November against the Eagles, Collie had a telephone interview with Indianapolis Star beat writer Mike Chappell. Now, as some of you may recall, Chappell accused the Colts of violating NFL rules last year in regards to them preventing Collie from speaking to the media after his injury in Philadelphia. Chappells argument had merit in that Collie, who was not on injured reserve at the time, was required to be available for media.
Now, when a subject like this comes up, I know some people have silly responses to this along the lines of 'LEAVE [INSERT PLAYER NAME HERE] ALONE!' But, despite whatever childish, nonsensical response some fans may have, the reality is this is pro football's rules about player availability are pretty clear.
Talking with the media during the season is not optional. It's required.
Sure, people like Austin may not like to chat with the media. But, the personal likes and dislikes of one person are not relevant when it comes to the rules. Take, for example, my job. I personally don't like chatting with SB Nation's advertising executives when it comes to putting more ads on this blog. Nothing against them personally, but I don't like talking about that kind of stuff. However, despite my personal dislike for it, it's just part of the job and I kind of have to do it.
Same with Austin and the media. Speaking with them is as much a part of the job as catching the football is.
"I feel good," Collie said in a recent telephone interview. "I feel like my routes are crisp and I'm catching the ball well. I'm doing all the little things."
Again, it's nice to hear Austin thinks he's doing OK. For me, I remain skeptical because I've heard this song before. Last year, Bob Sanders kept saying he was OK until he got hurt in Week One on a routine play. Same with Anthony Gonzalez. Everyone feels great during the offseason. That feeling changes quickly when the 'bullets are live,' as they say. I don't doubt Austin thinks he's 100%. Thinking it and being it are two different things.
Also, we don't know how Austin is going to be when the games are real and the route required is over the middle. Will he get alligator arms when he hears that safety close on him? Would you blame him if he did?
Back to the 'media monster' for a second, a quote from Austin that seemed especially silly to both me and PFT's Gregg Rosenthal was Collie's suggestion that 'the media' felt he would retire after last year:
Colts receiver Austin Collie says he never considered walking away from football after his multiple scary concussion scares last year.
"I don’t think for me there really was a decision," Collie told Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star. "I didn’t even entertain the thought of not coming back. I think the media made their own stories as far as what I was going to do."We’re honestly not sure what media reported Collie was considering retirement.
I'm honestly not sure either. Who was writing or saying that Austin Collie would retire after 2010? I know fans here and on message boards were asking the question, which was (and is) legitimate. The guy suffered three concussions (officially two, but in reality it was three) in one season over a four week period. It's perfectly reasonable for fans who care about Austin's health to ask if he should retire.
But who in the mainstream media, or even in the the blogosphere, was writing that Austin would retire?
The answer is no one, and Austin is simply pointing a finger at an imaginary boogeyman for reasons that make little sense.
Like everyone else, I want to see Austin Collie return in 2011. I want to see more amazing catches that convert third downs and score points. I want to see him cement his status as the best slot receiver in football (because, as we all know, he's better than Wes Welker).
But, like it or not, Collie is going to be scrutinized all season because of the injuries he suffered in 2010. Collie, and everyone else, must understand that we are living in a time when more and more information is being shared regarding brain injuries due to concussions.
Collie might be wise to remember that former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson committed suicide in February by putting a bullet into his chest. Prior to killing himself, he sent text messages to family members requesting that science study his brain.
"He told me he loved me very much and he was truly sorry and that he loves the kids," said Alicia Duerson. "And that he thinks there was something wrong with his brain on the left side and for me to please get it to the NFL."
Duerson's brain was indeed analyzed, and, earlier this month, The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the B.U. School of Medicine disclosed their findings. Duerson, who had sustained multiple concussions in his career as a football player, did indeed have brain damage at the time of his suicide.
Now, I'm not here to tell Austin Collie what he should or shouldn't do. I'm just here to state that the next time Austin gets prickly with 'the media' on the subject of his health, he should first be specific when it comes to who he is talking about (because making blanket statements about 'the media' is childish and useless), and next be aware that when people ask him questions about his future in regards to concussions, they have people like Dave Duerson in the back of their minds.
Again, I want Austin Collie in blue and white next season. But, more importantly, I want Austin Collie to live past the age of 50. His wife just gave birth to a little boy last year. Being around and seeing your kid grow up is far more important than catching passes from Peyton Manning.