That’s when he sustained the neck injury that ended his career.
Or did it?
Collins has maintained all along that he still wants to play football, and apparently that hasn’t changed.
Within the last 24 hours, Collins has twice taken to Twitter to indicate as such.
Who's looking for a top notch free safety. This kid is ready to dominate #2014
— Nick Collins (@nickdapick36) February 4, 2014
Nickdapick36 is ready for action.
— Nick Collins (@nickdapick36) February 3, 2014
Collins, now 30, underwent cervical fusion surgery following his neck injury, but the Packers would not clear him to return.
Upon releasing Collins on April 25, 2012, Packers general manager Ted Thompson said: “From the beginning of this process, we have taken our time and sought numerous medical opinions while maintaining consistent dialogue with Nick. In the end, we were not comfortable clearing him to play again. As with all of our players, Nick is a member of our family and we thought of him that way as we came to this conclusion."
The Packers are still looking for a safety to replace Collins’ playmaking ability -- their safeties failed to come up with a single interception last season -- but it’s hard to imagine their medical opinion changing.
Collins returned to Lambeau Field last month to attend the playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers and was introduced to loud cheers.
Last summer, in an interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Collins said he was still holding out hope he could play again.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to have to stop playing the game,” he said in an Aug. 20, 2013 story. “You hope it would be later in your career. Organizations feel like I’m unable to play, but I still have that hope that one day I get a call and they’re like, ‘Let’s go give it a shot.’”