Maybe I'm just getting old, but I remember when your average NFL player would come to the sideline, spit out three bicuspids, Scotch-tape his humerus together and get back out there. Now we have Sta-Puft-like Carolina Panthers quarterback Kerry Collins, who has all the 'nads of a jelly Danish.
Collins, 25—and making more than $1 million a year—walked into coach Dom Capers's office last week and asked to be benched (page 48). Asked! Said he didn't "have his heart in it" anymore. Said he'd rather be third string. Collins said he was also upset that on road trips his breakfast plate has not come with an orchid.
If I were Capers, I would have said, "Your heart's not in it? Fine. Oh, one other thing. You know the payroll envelope for this week? Your check's not in it."
Collins, you little Beanie Baby! Your heart's not in it? You signed a contract at the beginning of this season. That contract was a promise to your teammates, your coaches, your owners and your fans to lead. You quit on them, is what you did.
Sometimes I wonder if some men of this generation would have the guts to fight for their country, to have taken Omaha Beach.
Collins! Cover me! I'm gonna make a run at that rat's nest!
Gee, Smitty, I don't know. I don't really have my heart in it.
If that war had come down to guys like Klipboard Kerry, we would all be using umlauts now and taking Monday off for Goebbels Day.
Maybe the money is too big these days. Maybe you take a year or two of those checks the size of Ecuador's GNP and you go all Pillsbury and you feel like becoming one with the La-Z-Boy. I know guys in college I would rather have starting than Collins. Do you realize Shaun King of Tulane started and played last week with a broken wrist? For free?
There's somebody Collins needs to meet. His name is Mark Rypien. He's an NFL quarterback, just like Kerry. He led the Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl tide once. In July he called up the Atlanta Falcons and admitted his heart wasn't in it, either. It wasn't easy. Rypien would rather eat penny nails than miss a football game. But he had no choice. His three-year-old son, Andrew, was dying of brain cancer, and Mark wanted to be with him. He watched for 13 months as An-, drew slowly died, and now his wife, Annette, has cervical cancer. Mark's still home, doing everything he can for her and their two daughters.