A little more than a week from now, Kerry Collins will report to an NFL training camp for the 15th time.
That’s a large number by anyone’s standards, yet anyone who has watched his four seasons with the Tennessee Titans has a pretty good sense of his career as a whole. There have been highs and there have been lows – and in some cases they have been extreme.
“From the outside they look like extremes,” Collins said. “For me, personally, I’ve really tried to kind of keep it somewhere in the middle. You’re going to win games; you’re going to lose games. You’re going to have good stretches; you’re going to have bad stretches. That’s just kind of part of playing quarterback in this league, with the exception of a few.
“Everybody faces the ups and downs, and everybody faces adversity at times. Part of being a quarterback in this league is being able to handle that, and if anything, over the years, I’ve learned to do that really well.”
Collins joined the Titans just prior to the start of the 2006 regular season, was thrown into the starting lineup and was a part of three straight losses right off the bat. Last season, he doubled up when he was under center as the Titans opened 0-6.
In between, he was a steadying and productive force as the Titans went an NFL-best 13-3 in 2008.
It’s similar to other stops he’s made since he was selected fifth overall by the Carolina Panthers in 1995. He helped Carolina reach the NFC Championship game in his second season and a little more than a year later was traded to New Orleans. He was the starter for the New York Giants in 2000, when that team went to the Super Bowl and also spent two years with the Oakland Raiders, which won nine games in his time there.
“That’s one of the keys to my longevity – that, and physically, I feel good,” he said. “Being able to handle anything that gets thrown your way is the biggest thing. For me, at different points in my career it’s been good, it’s been bad. You have to be able to learn from it, be able to handle it, move on and come back stronger than you were before.”
Collins is now 38 and enters camp as the backup to Vince Young. Consequently, there’s no guarantee that he will get another chance to ‘come back stronger’ as he has done.
Regardless, he talks like someone who plans to be back under center sometime, somewhere.
“Despite how much I’ve played over the years and the beating that I’ve taken – I feel pretty good when I wake up in the morning and I go out here to practice,” Collins said. “I’m really thankful for that. It allows me to do the things I need to do.
“I don’t know how I’ll feel in 15 years, but right now I feel pretty good.”
Not too good, though. But not too bad either.