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BY JEFF FALK
Of all the professional athletes from Lebanon County who I have covered over the years, the one I know the least about is Kerry Collins. In fact, I’ve never even spoken to him (Actually, the only interview Collins ever granted to a member of the Lebanon media was at Super Bowl XXV.)
I suppose one of the things I wondered about Collins was exactly how many people from Lebanon knew him – or exactly how private a person he is.
It was with mixed feelings that I learned of Collins’ retirement from the NFL a couple years back. By all accounts, Collins, 40, enjoyed an up-and-down, yet solid and underrated 16-year career with five NFL teams.
KerryPrior to his announcement, it appeared Collins would be the Tennessee Titans’ starting quarterback at the beginning of the 2011 season. He ended his career with 40,441 passing yards, which placed him 11th on the NFL’s all-time list.
Collins was the starting quarterback of the last great Penn State Nittany Lion team. In 1994, Collins led Penn State to a perfect 13-0 record and a win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl. But in a controversial vote, the Nittany Lions finished second to Nebraska in the final rankings.
The following spring, the 6-5, 240-pound Collins was drafted by the Carolina Panthers with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft. At that time, there was concern about Collins’ delivery of the football, that a hitch in his throwing motion would allow quicker corner backs to close on his pass attempts.
But Collins overcame. With a cannon for a right arm, the so-called ‘Collins hitch’ was never an issue. At the time of his retirement, Collins was still he possessor of one of the strongest arms in the NFL.
One of the questions about Collins that I always field is: ‘Would have he enjoyed the same amount of professional success had he not moved away from Lebanon?’ My answer has always been an emphatic ‘yes’.
Whether it was throwing a football or hurling a baseball for the Lebanon junior legion team, Collins always had a big-time arm. He had the kind of talent that simply couldn’t go unnoticed.
throwOf course, at the time, Collins’ move from Lebanon to West Lawn for what appeared to be athletic purposes was highly controversial. Back then, such movement was less accepted than it is today.
Reportedly, Collins’ move was caused by a tiff between then friends Cedar head coach Hal Donley and his assistant and Collins’ father Pat. As the story goes, Kerry Collins took a big hit during a practice that the elder Collins thought should have been non-contact for the quarterback.
The move angered the proud Lebanon Cedar football faithful and that anger may have served as the onus for Collins distancing himself from his native community. What one must remember was that Lebanon High had some very talent-laden squads during the early 1990s and that the one position the Cedars were thin at was the quarterback spot.
And so it was in his senior season that Collins led the Bulldogs into Lebanon Alumni Stadium for a mid-season showdown with his former Cedars. Both teams were undefeated and riding high, and your’s truly wrote something to the effect that it would be ironic if somehow the Cedars could come up with a way to upset the mighty Bulldogs.
But it wasn’t meant to be for Lebanon High that night. Collins enjoyed one of his best evenings as a high school player, threw the ball all over the field against the out-manned Cedars and Wilson won in a rout.
Following the game, then Wilson head coach Gerry Slemmer chastised and scolded this reporter. Slemmer refused to be interviewed by me and even went as far as to say that I was the reason Wiislon had won the game, because my pre-game comments had fired up his charges.
CardCollins’ move to West Lawn seemed to be justified when the Bulldogs went on to win the PIAA Class AAAA championship that season. It wasn’t that much later that Collins announced his decision to continue his football pursuits at Penn State.
Later, as a pro, Collins reportedly donated a considerable sum of money to the affluent Wilson school district.
To this day, Collins splits time between Nashville, Tennessee and Asheboro, North Carolina, but maintains ties to Lebanon. Both of his parents live in the area.
I suppose if given the opportunity to ask Kerry Collins one question, it would be: ‘Do you consider Lebanon your hometown?’ or ‘Do you feel like you have a hometown?’ And I guess if I could tell Collins one thing it would be that people from Lebanon rooted for him, that they were happy about what he accomplished and that they were proud of the man that he became.
What follows is Kerry Collins’ regular-season career stats, year-by-year, courtesy of www.NFL.com:

Passing
Year Team G Att Comp Pct Att/G Yds Avg Yds/G TD TD% Int Int% Lng 20+ 40+ Sck SckY Rate
2010 Tennessee Titans 10 278 160 57.6 27.8 1,823 6.6 182.3 14 5.0 8 2.9 80T 23 4 13 91 82.2

2009 Tennessee Titans 7 216 119 55.1 30.9 1,225 5.7 175.0 6 2.8 8 3.7 69T 11 4 6 37 65.5

2008 Tennessee Titans 16 415 242 58.3 25.9 2,676 6.4 167.2 12 2.9 7 1.7 56T 33 4 8 60 80.2

2007 Tennessee Titans 6 82 50 61.0 13.7 531 6.5 88.5 0 0.0 0 0.0 46 4 2 5 42 79.9

2006 Tennessee Titans 4 90 42 46.7 22.5 549 6.1 137.2 1 1.1 6 6.7 36 9 0 4 23 42.3

2005 Oakland Raiders 15 565 302 53.5 37.7 3,759 6.7 250.6 20 3.5 12 2.1 79 49 6 39 261 77.3

kneel2004 Oakland Raiders 14 513 289 56.3 36.6 3,495 6.8 249.6 21 4.1 20 3.9 63 49 8 25 144 74.8

2003 New York Giants 13 500 284 56.8 38.5 3,110 6.2 239.2 13 2.6 16 3.2 77T 29 7 28 164 70.7

2002 New York Giants 16 545 335 61.5 34.1 4,073 7.5 254.6 19 3.5 14 2.6 82T 61 4 24 152 85.4

2001 New York Giants 16 568 327 57.6 35.5 3,764 6.6 235.2 19 3.3 16 2.8 76 52 7 36 206 77.1

2000 New York Giants 16 529 311 58.8 33.1 3,610 6.8 225.6 22 4.2 13 2.5 59 46 7 28 243 83.1

1999 New York Giants 10 331 190 57.4 33.1 2,318 7.0 231.8 8 2.4 11 3.3 80T 25 4 16 112 73.3

1998 New Orleans Saints 7 191 94 49.2 27.3 1,202 6.3 171.7 4 2.1 10 5.2 89T 13 1 21 140 54.5

1998 Carolina Panthers 4 162 76 46.9 40.5 1,011 6.2 252.8 8 4.9 5 3.1 72T 13 5 10 51 70.8

1997 Carolina Panthers 13 381 200 52.5 29.3 2,124 5.6 163.4 11 2.9 21 5.5 59T 23 1 27 200 55.7

1996 Carolina Panthers 13 364 204 56.0 28.0 2,454 6.7 188.8 14 3.8 9 2.5 55 29 4 18 114 79.4

1995 Carolina Panthers 15 433 214 49.4 28.9 2,717 6.3 181.1 14 3.2 19 4.4 89T 35 8 24 150 61.9

TOTAL 195 6,163 3,439 55.8 31.6 40,441 6.6 207.4 206 3.3 195 3.2 89 504 76 332 2,190 73.9

profile (Editor’s note: This piece on Kerry Collins originally appeared on Lebanon Sports Buzz in September of 2011. )

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