As the Indianapolis Colts battled the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 19, one play in particular had a very unfortunate conclusion. Colts wide receiver Austin Collie appeared to take as many as three blows to the head in rapid succession on one play and may have suffered another concussion.
Collie, who had three concussions in 2010, came across the middle to catch a pass during the first quarter of play when he ran into traffic. Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor caught him in the side of the head with a forearm on the initial tackle, which appeared to knock Collie's head into linebacker Larry Foote's shoulder pads. On the way off the shoulder pads, Collie's head appeared to bounce off Foote's knee.
You can watch the video of the play by clicking here.
There was certainly nothing dirty about the play. The Steelers were simply converging on the receiver, and it was a fluke that Collie's head was bounced around like a pinball. Nevertheless, I knew as the collision happened that Collie wasn't going to be jumping right back up after that hit. At live speed, I saw his head hit twice. On the slow-motion replay, I saw the third shot.
Collie was slow to get up, and he appeared to be in a daze as he wobbled off the field. He went to the locker room immediately after the play and was never heard from again. The Sunday Night Football announcers reported that he was being treated for "symptoms of a concussion"--the awful "c" word that Collie can't seem to escape.
I really like Collie. When he's healthy, he's an integral part of the Colts offense. He looked like he was in top form a week ago against the St. Louis Rams, when he caught three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. He's a legitimate threat who also takes pressure off of Reggie Wayne, and he has an uncanny nose for the end zone.
But if this turns out to be Collie's fourth concussion in two years, I have to wonder how much is enough.
With what we know about the long-term impact of concussions--and how much we still don't know about it--when does Collie call it a career? When do the Colts step in and act in his best interests, much like the Detroit Lions are doing with running back Jahvid Best?
Winning is nice, and Collie can help the Colts do that, but I don't want to see him continue playing if it means a lifetime of problems caused by brain trauma as a result. This Colts team is not going to be competitive for the Super Bowl for quite some time, so I don't see any real sense of urgency to get Collie back on the field in a hurry.
My hope is that Collie "only" suffered a neck stinger or something of that nature, and that this isn't his fourth concussion. But if it is, I hope that he and the Colts take a long time to weigh the pros and cons of a continued career versus a potential lifetime of misery before he suits back up again and takes the field.
The author is a resident of central Indiana and a longtime fan of the Colts. He is also a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.