Kerry Collins is retiring from the NFL after 16 up and down years between the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans. Though he wore many uniforms in the pros, his days wearing the plain blue and white uniform and white helmet remain some of the best ever seen by a quarterback in Penn State program history.
Collins no longer has the big passing records in the school's record books, but there is little debate that he is the best pure quarterback to ever pass through Penn State.
"Kerry is the best QB in PSU history!" says former Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson. The two were never on the same team in college or in the NFL but Robinson says Collins still had an impact on his own football career. "[He] taught me to focus on learning protections first," Robinson said. "Gotta know when you are hot."
With Collins at the helm, Penn State was 2-1 in bowl games, with the lone loss coming in a stinker against Stanford in the Blockbuster Bowl, which has evolved to become the Champs Sports Bowl. The two victories in postseason play came in the Citrus Bowl (Capital One Bowl) in a romp against Tennessee and the Rose Bowl against Oregon to complete an undefeated season in 1994-95.
Collins was known for his accuracy in college, and to this day no Penn State quarterback has been able to match his record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. In 1994, Collins threw a touchdown in 11 consecutive games for a school record. His career record of 14 straight games with a touchdown pass carried over from the 1993 season. His 1994 season passing efficiency rating of 172.86 is not only a Penn State record, but among the best in NCAA history (fourth overall).
Collins was drafted fifth overall by the expansion Carolina Panthers in the 1995 NFL Draft, four picks after teammate Ki-Jana Carter (Cincinnati Bengals) and a few picks before the New York Jets drafted teammate Kyle Brady.
Of the three, Collins had the best NFL career as well, even though it came with more than a few bumps in the road on and off the field. But Collins proved his worth time and time again. He led the Panthers to the NFC Championship game in their second year in existence (losing to Brett Favre and the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers) and also reached the Super Bowl with the New York Giants (where they ran into a buzz saw against the Baltimore Ravens).
While not the most dazzling of NFL quarterbacks, Collins continued his steady play while reviving his professional career with the Tennessee Titans. Though his touchdown to interception ratio is nothing to brag about, Collins will retire with over 40,000 passing yards, good for 11th on the NFL's all-time list entering the 2011 season.
Despite his NFL accolades, his impact on Penn State's football program will remain the highlight of his football days.
"Kerry Collins has been a great player for a long time," Robinson said. "He will be missed!"
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