Austin Collie has become the epitome of what every NFL parent fears for their child on the field and that is being continually exposed to vicious hits as a defenseless player. The NFL has made it a mission to limit the numbers of concussions sustained mostly by offensive players catching passes over the middle that are left susceptible to opposing linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties waiting to line them up and leave a blow that will make the offensive player never want to go over the middle again. In a way the league is watering down the game to a point where defenders can’t do anything to skilled offensive players who are catching and throwing the ball at this point. Boys will be boys and you cannot stop a defenders momentum sometimes because they are just playing the game of football
Collie was the unfortunate beneficiary of two concussions in a seven week period last season and also suffered foot and hand injuries. The second year player out of BYU was placed on the IR on December 22nd of last year and had many wondering if Peyton Manning’s new “go-to guy,” would even be able to even play next year. Collie is looking to put all his injuries behind him and hone in on keeping his training consistent this off-season during the NFL lockout.
Austin Collie joined KHTK in Sacramento with Grant Napear to discuss the multiple head injuries he has suffered during his NFL career, his multiple concussions scaring him for the future of his career at the age of twenty-five, how much different this season has been training-wise during a lockout as compared to a regular NFL season where the Indianapolis Colts provide him the facilities to work out in, being able to survive an 18-game schedule, a team that the Indianapolis Colts circle on their calendar when they get the schedule for the upcoming year and the status of Anthony Gonzalez’s health.
Tell me as a guy who runs patterns against safeties and cornerbacks what was last year like with all the head injuries going across the middle? How did you deal with that?
“I think I have kind of put that behind me. I don’t like to dwell on it too much just because it can affect your play going across the middle and catching another ball. You don’t want things like that popping up in your mind. I try to ignore any thought I do have of it. I don’t want to watch it. People want to show me and ask how I felt during that time and what not. I just kind of brush it aside because it is one of those things that it is in the past and it’s unfortunate. I was unlucky, but I’m just looking forward to this next season and getting on with it.”
You’re 25 years old. I mean don’t the concussions scare you at this point in your career?
“Not really. If it was one of those things that I had a history of concussions and now I’m getting worse or more-and-more frequent then it would definitely be a worry of mine in the near future, but I’ve known players who play with 9 or 10 concussions and who have lived on to have successful careers and haven’t had any symptoms later on in life, so again everyone is different. Everyone handles each injury different and hopefully down the road it’ll be perfectly fine.
Is it different for you to get ready for an NFL season on your own rather than have an NFL team provide it for you?
“Definitely. It takes ten times more discipline and you gotta call in favors to see if you could work out in this gym and if you can work out in that gym. Nothing is really scheduled. My wife and I have had the opportunity with all the time we have had to kind of grab our new kid and visit the grandparents a lot, so I’ve been back-and-fourth. We’ve been back-and-fourth between Salt Lake City and here. Things come up in the week that make it harder. There’s not really a set time, so like I said you really have to be disciplined and you really have to maintain a rhythm because if you get out of that rhythm you can go out of sync forever.
How difficult is to be at peak position each and every week with the violence in this game? The NFL wants an 18-game season or did at one point. Can players survive that?
“It’s tough. My first year I was blessed as far as not having any nagging injuries. I may have had a tweak here or there, but I was able to play the entire season and feel pretty good the entire season, but this last year dealing with the concussions. I also had a foot injury. I had thumb surgery. It was a pretty unlucky season. I really felt the impact of each game and especially when I was catching more balls. Last year, my first year, I was probably catching three or four balls a game. This last year in the first six games I was averaging about eight or nine catches a game, so you definitely feel the impact the more times you have the ball in your hands.”
Is there a team the Colts circle on the calendar when they get the schedule for the upcoming year? We had Hines Ward on and he said they circle the Baltimore Ravens on their calendar?
“Personally when I look at the schedule the first thing my eyes to is against New England at New England just because of the rivalry and what happened last year. I was unfortunate to only be able to play one quarter of that game. It was such a close game and we almost had it in the bag. It definitely was when that schedule came out that was the first team that I looked at. We got a tough schedule this year. We play a lot of tough opponents like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New England at New England, Atlanta, New Orleans, so it definitely a schedule of high impact, high power teams. We’ll just take it one team at a time.”
What is the status of Anthony Gonzalez in terms of his health for this season if the lockout were to be lifted?
“Anthony is from what I hear you know from what he has told me is that he feels healthy. He feels great. Anthony is a wonderful player when he is healthy. He’s explosive and we’re hoping to have a healthy year from him and get a lot of guys healthy. A lot of guys were hurt last year that we needed, but if we definitely get him back we are going to have a powerful receiving core.”