INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Caldwell said hello to Kerry Collins almost 30 years ago when the quarterback ventured onto campus at Penn State.
On Wednesday at the podium in the media room of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center,
Caldwell did not bid goodbye to Collins, but the injured quarterback was not present after being placed on injured reserve yesterday after suffering a concussion a month ago against Pittsburgh.
The move ended the playing season for Collins.
Caldwell, like any coach, has personal relationships with players. His relationship with Collins likely runs deeper, given his long association with the talented quarterback. Caldwell spoke of the brief period he had in Indianapolis with Collins.
"It was kind of a constant evaluation, constant diagnosis and consulting with his medical situation (and) after everything was all said and done, (we) sat down to see where we were," said Caldwell of yesterday's meeting that capped the period of time spent monitoring Collins. "It was the best solution for this particular point in time. He's a competitor, and you know how competitors are.
"He's had a long, good career, a great career, actually, playing as long as he's played. It wasn't an easy thing. I don't think anyone wants to see their career end that way. It wasn't easy."
Collins joined Indianapolis on August 25 as the club put the finishing touches on training camp while preparing to play without Peyton Manning, who was out with a neck injury. Collins attended the Green Bay preseason game in uniform, but as a spectator. He started the preseason finale at Cincinnati five days later and played into the second half.
Collins was under center when Indianapolis played at Houston in the opener on September 11. On a tough day for the entire team and at the controls of a difficult offense to orchestrate, Collins was 16-of-31 for 197 yards and one touchdown in a loss to Houston.
At home against Cleveland the next week, he hit 19-of-38 passes for 191 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Indianapolis battled into the fourth quarter in a two-point contest the Browns eventually captured by eight points. Collins made his final start of the season on September 25 against Pittsburgh, hitting 13-of-29 passes for 93 yards. He suffered a concussion in the second half of the 23-20 loss to the Steelers, and did not return to game action. He participated in practices recently only in a limited capacity.
Caldwell stopped short of making any major pronouncement on Collins, and he said Collins is using this time to be with his family.
"He was going home to spend a little time with his family right now," said Caldwell. "I'm not certain exactly (what will happen). I'll let him talk about that aspect of it. I won't speak for him in that regard. He went home to be with his wife and daughter, who he hasn't seen in a little while."
Prior to his time in Indianapolis, Collins authored an outstanding career that spanned 16 seasons with five previous teams. After being the first-ever pick of Carolina, the fifth choice overall, in the 1995 draft, Collins played into a fourth season with the Panthers before being claimed by New Orleans. He was signed by the New York Giants in 1999 as a free agent, and he played there through the 2003 season. Collins directed the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV following the 2000 season. The Penn State product signed with Oakland as a free agent in 2004, then took the same path to Tennessee in 2006, where he remained through the end of last season.
Collins started 180 of 198 career outings and hit 3,487-of-6,261 passes for 40,922 yards with 208 touchdowns and 196 interceptions. In three starts with the Colts, he was 48-of-98 for 481 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
When asked if he were disappointed in what Collins was able to accomplish with the Colts, Caldwell cited the difficult circumstance with injuries for any athlete and how none of it can be kept from happening.
"You can't control those kinds of things," said Caldwell. "It's not as if we have some control over injuries (and) things of that nature. He gave us all he had. He was a great acquisition for us, (a) tough competitor. (He) did a great job in the meeting rooms for us, just (a) tremendous individual. No, that would be the wrong way (to feel). … The guy did what he came here to do. He couldn't control the things that occurred to him, none of us can."
This Sunday Indianapolis will be visiting Nashville, where Collins resides. He maintained his home there after playing with the Titans. Asked also about if Collins assisted in preparations against Tennessee, Caldwell instead pointed out the human side of players and dealing with a high-profile existence in a sport followed by millions of observers.
"This thing (being placed on IR) just happened to him yesterday, late yesterday," said Caldwell. "After he finished everything he had to finish here, he was anxious to get home and visit with his wife. It's not an easy time in your life. You want to get around family and want to talk some things over. He's normal people. Everybody kind of thinks these guys for some reason are a little bit different than the great majority (of society). They're normal guys that have families and feelings and disappointments and heartaches. … He did not have time to pontificate (in preparations), put it that way."