As I watched former BYU receiver Austin Collie take that vicious hit from Larry Foote on Sunday night in the Indianapolis Colts' exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a first-quarter hit that caused Collie to leave the game with concussion-like symptoms, I remembered a few things Collie said to me at June's BYU football media day about his NFL career, and history of concussions.
"Nope," Collie said when I asked him if he was still feeling any effects from the concussions that sidelined him during the 2010 season. "None at all."
He can only hope that that remains the case after the latest blow to his head, an unnecessary forearm from Foote while Collie was trying to catch a pass from rookie Andrew Luck. Collie walked to the locker room on his own power, but was clearly out of sorts.
Concussions suffered by NFL players were a hot topic when I sat down with Collie in June, and I asked him whether he was concerned about the horror stories we've heard about former players and their post-career battles due to concussions.
"I think it is just one of those things that is just .... obviously, you don't want to end up with any of those issues later on in your life. But with everything that is going on with reports of guys who are mentally sick, and having issues and stuff like that, it is unfortunate for them.
But I think there is so much effort, and so much attention on it now, and just since I have been in the NFL, so much research and so many ways to help you overcome that injury, I don't think I am too concerned with it.
All these guys that are popping up [now, with post-concussion problems], I really don't think there was as much attention, or research [back then], and obviously that needs to happen. It is kind of like, it was, 'OK, you have a brain injury? just rest.'
"Now, I have got software on my computer that is a brain fitness program, where I can train my brain to think faster, to get back to where it needs to be. So I think with all that stuff, it is just like a muscle. It is going to be injured, but you just have to work it back up and do a little physical therapy with it.
And with the brain, that is thinking, that is strategizing in your head and stuff like that."
Does that mean Collie is generally happy with the steps the NFL has taken to address the concussion dangers?
"Yeah, anything that is going to help the players' safety I think is a great cause, or a great step, by the NFL," he said.
Collie is entering a contract year with the Colts, this being the final year of a four-year deal he signed after being taken in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
"I am just going to look to go out and do what I have been doing, and that's trying to reach my full potential and play to my full potential," he said in June.
Not surprisingly, the ever-confident Collie isn't astounded by his NFL success.
"Obviously you have this self-confidence where you think you can play amongst those guys. As far as my level of expectation, it kind of grew as my rookie year went on. So when I first got there, my level of expectation was just to get on the field, get in the huddle," he said.
"Once I got past that, and knew I would be playing, I wanted to catch a few balls a game. I want to have the big catch somewhere. Then once I conquered that, I looked for more.
I was getting excited when I had three catches for 20 yards. I was walking away from a game saying, 'Ok, that was a good game.' Then my expectation level grew to where if I don't have five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, I am going to be disappointed.
Then it became, if I don't have eight catches for 100 yards, it is not going to be a good game, either.
So to say that I have pondered or looked back and been surprised, I can't say that. I've always had that expectation of myself, that confidence level, of thinking it would just be a matter of time before I saw success."
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