Collins, 38, played for five different teams and passed for over 40,000 yards in 16 seasons. The two time Pro Bowler reached the NFC Championship with the Panthers in 1996 and Super Bowl XXXV with the Giants in 2000. In announcing his retirement, Collins revealed that he was no longer motivated enough to endure the rigors of another NFL season.
"The past several months have brought on much introspection," Collins said, "and I have decided that while my desire to compete on Sundays is still and always will be there, my willingness to commit to the preparation necessary to play another season has waned to a level that I feel is no longer adequate to meet the demands of the position."
The Panthers selected Kerry Collins with the fifth overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft, making him the first selection in team history. His tenure in Carolina was a rollercoaster ride and important first chapter in Panthers lore. He showed a lot of promise and quickly became the franchise's first starting quarterback.
In 1996, Collins led the 12-4 Panthers to the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. It looked as if the Panthers had struck gold and found their quarterback for years to come. The Packers went on to dismantle the Panthers 30-13. This crushing defeat at Lambeau Field was the beginning of the end for Kerry Collins in a Panthers uniform.
Collins had a drinking problem, which he admitted on numerous occasions. His alcoholism soon became an issue both in the locker room and on the field. After their great 12-4 campaign in 1996, the Panthers finished a disappointing 7-9 in 1997. Collins play suffered as he threw only 11 touchdowns passes to go with 21 interceptions. After losing his first four games in 1998, Collins approached head coach Dom Capers and asked to be traded. Instead, he was released. Just like that, the Kerry Collins era was over in Charlotte after only three full seasons.
To his credit, Collins got his act together and went on to have a successful and lengthy career elsewhere. However, many Panthers fans to this day still can't help but wonder what could have been if Kerry had stayed with the team. He was young and talented with all the makings of a franchise quarterback. Collins was supposed to be the guy taking snaps at Bank of America Stadium for many years. Ironically, the Panthers still haven't seemed to find his replacement. After Collins' departure, they got a few decent years from Steve Beuerlein and Jake Delhomme. Other than that, the Panthers haven't been able to find a steady presence behind center in over a decade. Rodney Peete, Chris Weinke, Vinny Testaverde, and David Carr have all taken turns with minimal success.
After drafting Jimmy Clausen in 2010 and Cam Newton in 2011, it appears that the front office is desperately searching for a quarterback to fill the void left by Collins 13 years ago. Cross your fingers Panthers fans, and pray that one of these two can be the guy that Kerry Collins was supposed to be.
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