BY JEFF FALK
He didn’t change his mind as much as accept an offer he couldn’t refuse.
On Wednesday, Lebanon native Kerry Collins came out of retirement to become the stand-in/insurance policy for Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. Just last month, during the NFL labor lockout, Collins announced his retirement from the Tennessee Titans after 16 seasons of NFL competition.
Upon announcing his retirement, Collins said he still had the motivation to play but lacked the energy to prepare. Collins is expected to start for the Colts while Manning, one of the top quarterbacks in the game, recovers from off-season neck surgery.
Manning is not expected to be healed in time for the Colts’ opener on Sept. 11 at the Houston Texans. He currently holds the longest active streak for starting games among NFL quarterbacks.
“Hopefully, Peyton will be back, but if he’s not maybe I can be one of the guys that can help this ball club,” Collins said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday night. “The biggest draw for me coming here was just being with a team that I have a lot of respect for and a lot of history with, and really to be with a great team and play with one of greatest quarterbacks of all time.”
The Colts will be Collins’ sixth NFL team, after he spent the last five seasons with Tennessee. Collins, 38, has amassed the 11th most passing yards in NFL history.
Collins will reportedly make $4 million in 2011.
“It is a good opportunity to have Kerry become part of the team,” Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said in a Colts’ press release. “He is a veteran quarterback who has started many games and he brings dimension and depth to the quarterback position, which will be helpful. He is familiar with our division and will make a great addition to our roster.”
Interestingly enough, Collins joins another Lebanon native, Frank Reich, as a member of the Colts. After serving as Indianapolis’ quarterbacks coach, Reich is now the club’s wide receivers coach.