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Collins' actions just don't add up

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Posted: Thursday October 15, 1998 02:43 PM


To be or not to be -- that is the question.

Darnell Autry quit the Philadelphia Eagles a little over a week ago to pursue a career in acting. The former Northwestern All American and Rose Bowl star wanted to be an actor -- it was while in Los Angeles for the Rose Bowl that Autry met actor Charlton Heston, of the "Let my people go" fame. Autry was pulling in a weekly check of about $3,500 a week as a member of the practice squad and figured he could make that much as an extra in Hollywood, so he retired at 22.

As reports last week had it, quarterback Kerry Collins basically quit the Carolina Panthers. Collins, the former Penn State All American who once led the Lions to an undefeated season for Joe Paterno, is only two years removed from playing in the NFC Championship game versus the Green Bay Packers. Just a step away from the Super Bowl. This season, Collins was completing only 45 percent of his passes, but still had eight touchdown passes, more than all but five quarterbacks in the NFL.

I've worked on the Panthers preseason television games for the past four years. I've watched and commented on Collins' development as a young, up-and-coming QB in the NFL during those dog days of training camp. I remember the first time I met him at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the Panthers' summer home. When he strolled into the locker room, I knew that face. I thought he was a free agent linebacker.
Go figure: Kerry Collins threw away the presitgue, and possibly the salary, of a first-round draft pick AP 

Collins, at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds plus, has the textbook size, strength and mobility that makes NFL scouts drool. There was some question about a hitch in his delivery. Then Panthers GM Bill Polian checked footage of Collins against that of All-Pro Jim Kelly, and Collins passed the eye test.

Collins was pulling down about $1.15 million for this season when he walked into Dom Capers' office to drop the bomb on him. That's about $75,000 a week over the course of a 17-week schedule -- nice walking around money (something Collins did for 56 days this past summer in Europe). Hold onto your seat. Collins reportedly turned down a 5-year, $25 million deal or just under $300,000 a week last month. Hello!

Around the water cooler, employees often talk about what they would do if they won the lottery. You get a few loyal souls who claim they would still come to work because they love their jobs. I'd be the kind of guy who wouldn't even call the boss. Well, Collins had a lottery type job. How could someone walk away from a dream?

A recent survey conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion said 22 percent of adults said their No. 1 sports fantasy would be to throw the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. I don't know why Collins did what he did. Maybe he was trying to up the ante from the Panthers, contract wise. Maybe he was trying to get traded (he read my column last week). Or maybe he was just trying his luck at acting -- if "to be or not to be" was the question, the Panthers gave him an answer.

James Lofton, who will be inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in March, is an NFL analyst for CNN/SI. His weekly column appears every Thursday exclusively on  

Related information
Inside the NFL with David Fleming: Carolina spending gave Collins warning
Inside the NFL with Gary Horton: Collins wasn't ready for NFL pressure
Week 7 NFL Preview
NFL trading deadline only a fantasy
Collins, now a Saint, says he's no quitter
Panthers cut quarterback Collins
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