- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Are NFL teams obligated to protect Austin Collie from himself?
The former Colts receiver can be a tantalizing player -- he’s got a knack for getting open, and understands how to build a rapport with a quarterback.
But he has suffered at least three scary concussions, which makes him more likely to suffer another one. Even if a team doesn’t feel like it has to protect him from himself by not putting him on the field, it has to measure the likelihood that he will be regularly available.
He is working his way back from a knee injury that cost him all but a game last season.
"I'll sign a waiver, all right?" he told Mike Garafolo of USA Today. "They're not going to have to worry about me suing. I'll hold myself to be accountable ..."
"I just need that closure. When I feel like I accomplish everything I want to accomplish, I'll have no problem walking away from the game. But I have more to give."
I feel for him, but I understand why teams are wary.
Peyton Manning loved him when they were together as Colts.
Manning was recently asked if he has given Collie any advice.
“I haven’t had to give Austin any advice,” he said. “I keep in touch with Austin. He’s actually sent me some video of himself working out and rehabbing. He’s getting healthy. He’s just about getting cleared to work out for teams. Austin is a great friend of mine. I really enjoyed the three years we had playing together.
“He’s had just a string of bad luck when it’s come to injuries. But when he’s healthy, to me, he’s a top-flight receiver, especially in the slot. I think he’ll make a team better if they were to choose him. I think about him and hope -- I think he’s getting real close to getting 100 percent healthy with his patella, and I wish him all the best.”
I’m sympathetic to Collie with regard to his major gripe: That many are calling him selfish, saying he is not thinking of his family as he maintains his determination to play again.
It’s easy for us to judge from a distance. But he gets to decide for himself.
Unless 32 teams decide for him. There is still plenty of time for a receiver-needy team to consider him, and it just takes one for him to get back in the league.
At a time when concussions are a major issue and source of concern, it’s easy too, to understand why teams might continue to be cautious.