With a heightened focus on concussions in the sport of football, former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie has become the prime example of a player who has sustained a number of brain injuries. However, the free agent told Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks that he has no plans to close the book on his NFL career.
Collie — who missed nearly all of last season with a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee — says he’s tired of hearing how he should retire in fear of his future health. Instead, he points to advances in science as an indication that he can continue his career without fear of long-lasting health issues.
“What kind of bugs me is that the (ex-)players that are mentioned, does anyone realize the doctors didn’t know anywhere near as much then as they do now about brain trauma? Those guys who are having issues now didn’t have much knowledge about concussions. They didn’t have the information, the exercises, the supplements to help you recover from these injuries. Once upon a time they didn’t have great fixes for ACLs, but there’s been advances in surgeries and rehabs, and it’s not a career-ending injury any more. So it’s not really fair to say that the guys suffering from the effects of concussions who played years ago, that Austin is going to have exactly the same problems. We’ve had advances and benefits they didn’t.”
As he continues his recovery, Collie is working with Dr. Henry Feuer, who has been a longtime Colts team doctor and is also a member of the NFL’s Head Neck and Spine Committee. In addition, Collie says he and his family members are continually looking out for symptoms that could signal the onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
With a history of brain injury plus the ongoing rehab from a knee injury, Collie knows that he has a lot to overcome before any NFL team takes a chance on him in 2013. However, he uses the comebacks of Peyton Manning and coach Chuck Pagano — two people he worked with in Indianapolis — as inspiration for his own return to the field.
“Comebacks can’t be predicted or foreordained, they just happen,” Collie said. “Even Adrian Peterson; look at what he did last season. It has a lot to do with your perception, your head, and where it’s at. If you’re optimistic and stay positive, it can happen. There’s something to be said about the mind and what it can do. Between Peyton and Chuck last year, honestly, it’s given me hope. Seeing what they had to overcome, and how they excelled, it’s inspiring. Like, ‘Okay, we can get this done.’ Like those two guys, once I’m back, I’m back. All the way.’”
– Marcas Grant, contributing editor