Sep 072001
 
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Kerry Collins’ Glass Jaw

by Dog

One round to go and the kid advances to the semifinals of the Golden Glove competition. He clearly has dominated his opponents in this competition. This kid is pure natural talent. His first time in a ring was only eight months ago. With this performance, he has attracted the attention of several top trainers in the New York City area. He’ll win this match unless his opponent can knock him out. If he can be coached this kid could probably take a shot at turning pro within a year.

The bell rings and the fighters leave their corners. The kid’s competitor is a hardened veteran in his mid-thirties. He has solid technique but not quite enough talent to start a professional career. His love for the sport drives him more then the pursuit of greatness. The old veteran smiles as he marches in to the center of the ring to face the kid for the final round. It was a strange smile for the kid has dominated him the entire match. Now unless he can knock out this kid its over. The end of the last round the kid revealed a flaw. The old veteran picked up on it. It was just a matter of time before this talented kid is taught a valuable lesson. A lesson he should have learned before he even stepped into the ring. The old veteran couldn’t keep himself from smiling as he left his corner.

The kid observed his opponents smile as the bell rang out the start of the final round. He didn’t think too much of it as his adrenaline kicked in and all that mattered was keeping up with his opponent. There was no need for him to go on the offensive. An aggressive approach could lead to a possible mistake. The kid just has to be standing at the end of the round and he’ll win the match.

The old veteran started the round with a different approach altogether. He gave the appearance of being on the offensive but he wasn’t throwing any punches. He was dancing all over the ring and the kid found himself naturally following him. No punches were being thrown. The kid couldn’t think of any reason for his opponent’s new tactic. The kid followed his opponent around the ring throwing an occasional jab to play it safe. He thought this approach would be the wisest. However in keeping up with the veteran the kid’s breathing and heart rate began to increase. The kid began to breathe heavy. He instinctively loosened up on his mouthpiece to gulp for air. As soon as his jaw muscles relaxed the old veteran stepped in and landed a solid jab to the side of his jaw immediately followed by a roundhouse to the kids chin.

The jab was the blow that ended it for the kid. The pain shot through to his entire skull. It felt as though his jaw was forced through the back of his skull and his face exploded into pieces. His knees immediately buckled upon impact. White light filled his vision blinding him. All was black. The initial pain was so severe he never felt the further damage inflicted from the second blow.

The kid lay motionless in the ring. The blackout was only for a few seconds. The pain intensely reverberated throughout his entire skull. He did not move. His jaw was broken in two places. The old veteran won with the knockout. The kid’s jaw was set and wired and he was back into training in just a few months. But he never regained his confidence in the ring. He could not control the fear of having his skull explode with pain. Any contact to his face caused him to lose his composure and become too defensive. He would always love the sport but never be able to advance his career. The term ‘glass jaw’ does not necessarily mean a fragile jaw. It also refers to the debilitating fear of breaking a jaw or sustaining a severe blow to the face. Many boxers end their careers after sustaining a broken jaw in the ring.

Kerry Collins is the best-armed quarterback to wear Giants uniform in a decade and arguably longer. At the end of this season, if Collins can remain the starting quarterback, he will likely be ranked fifth on the Giants all time QB list with number of completions, passing yards and touchdowns. Kerry Collins has the potential for greatness but he also could suffer from a glass jaw.

As a kid Kerry Collins won championships every where he played. In high school his team won the Pennsylvania State 4-A title going undefeated his senior year 14-0. He threw for 2043 yards and 17 touchdowns. At Penn State in 1994 his senior year he led his team to victory at the Rose Bowl. The Nittany Lions went 12-0 that year while Collins threw for 2679 yards, 21 touchdowns and posted a 172.9% pass efficiency rating. As a man Kerry has discovered the NFL is a lot tougher then college. He also learned that life can be the toughest league of them all.

He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 1995 draft with the fifth overall selection. He started thirteen games his first year and was the first rookie quarterback since Dan Marino to have a winning record. In 1996 Kerry Collins led the Panthers to the NFC Championship game. The Panthers lost that game to the eventual Superbowl winners the Green Bay Packers. Kerry ended the season with a 79.4 quarterback rating. He had the second highest quarterback rating increase in the NFL. He jumped from his rookie season rating of 61.9 to 79.4. He also had the second fewest interceptions among quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts. His season ended with a trip to Hawaii where he played in the Pro Bowl. The 1996 season was only his second year in the NFL.

Collins started his third NFL season with an impressive training camp. Unfortunately his training camp would come to a violent end during the second preseason game. Kerry Collins football career and his life would begin to spiral out of control. A Bill Romanowski helmet to face assault brutalized Kerry. Although no flag was thrown, the act could not be labeled a hit. It was an assault. Kerry already released the pass and was standing tall in the pocket when Romanowski assaulted Kerry’s blindside. Collins never knew what happened. The pass was completed to Wesley Walls. Romanowski came unblocked. Although the ball was released, Romanowski never halted his charge or changed his angle of pursuit. He never even slowed down. Interesting behavior for an established veteran in a preseason game. The helmet to helmet hit was made illegal the previous season. Still Romanowski smashed his helmet directly into Kerry’s jaw. The jaw fractured in two places. Kerry Collins said, “It felt like my face exploded”. It was impressive how quickly he jumped back up. But his eyes were glassy and he was bleeding profusely from the mouth. He walked over to the sidelines and wouldn’t return to the field for 5 weeks. The jaw was stabilized with four metal plates two inserted at each point of fracture. The metal plates accounted for his ability to return so quickly. They would remain in place for several months. Kerry Collins returned in Week Three and played the entire season. He threw 21 interceptions and posted the leagues worst quarter back rating. Coach Capers and Collins both admitted he came back too fast from the injury. He was never given the time to regain his confidence. To compensate the Panthers decided not to pay him a 6 million-dollar bonus that would have initiated the final three years of his contract. Suddenly Collins was a restricted free agent and after receiving minimum attention from other teams he signed a one-year deal with the Panthers for 1.15 million.

Kerry Collins paid heavily for the Romanowski assault. Yet Romanowski only paid the NFL issued fine of $20,000. Romanowski stated “Its very unfortunate he got hurt. It wasn’t my intention.” Bill Romanowski seems to have a revolving credit with the NFL. Later in the season he was fined $7,500 for spitting on 49er receiver JJ Stokes. During the 99 season Romanowski was fined three more times. Each fine was from an illegal helmet to helmet hit. Tony Gonzalez, TE for the Chiefs, was the recipient of Romanowski’s assaults on two occasions. The first assault amassed a $7,500 fine against Romanowski the second assault cost him $10,000. Early on in the season Romanowski also victimized Tampa Bay quarterback Trent Dilfer with the same type of illegal hit and was fined another $10,000. After the second assault on Gonzalez Romanowski was asked about the amount of the fine, his reply was “I don’t care. I’ve got a lot of money”

If Kerry Collins can stay healthy and the Giants can manage his salary he should be able to comfortably surpass Phil Simms as the Giants all time leading quarterback. Phil Simms is a Giants legend. The more pressure you put on him the better he performed. Phil Simms was tough in the pocket and was able to take the physical punishment, but Simms never had his jaw crushed by a linebacker’s helmet. It takes incredible fortitude to be able to stand in a pocket after surviving that kind of assault. Add the fact that Kerry was blindsided and you have to wonder if he ever starts to lose control of his fear against an aggressive and loud defense. Besides the Superbowl performance his worse performance came during a regular season game. His quarterback rating was a paltry 20.1. He threw three interceptions and only completed 44 percent of his throws. The game was against none other then Bill Romanowski and the Denver Broncos.

Opening day is quickly approaching. Denver will be loud on Monday Night and the cool September air will be very thin. The Broncos no longer play at Mile High Stadium but their new stadium is still a mile high. The Giants must consider the cool thin Colorado air during their preparations. I was hoping to see Fassel take the team to Ramapo Mountain each morning and have the players run the Hill made famous by Comella and Barber. Afternoon practice would be held in the bubble for light contact scrimmages with game day sounds blasting in the loud speakers. Neither the offensive line nor the defensive line have proven back ups for rotation to keep everyone fresh in the thin mountain air. The Broncos will try to establish an early lead. If they succeed in establishing a first half lead they will attempt to run down the defense by giving the ball to Anderson, Davis or Gary. They could even rotate their backs to keep them fresh and further wear down the Giants defense. Stamina is going to be a major factor in this game.

This game is monstrous for the Broncos. They take exceptional pride in their ability to win their home games. This is their first game in their new home so expect the Bronco’s to be ready for war. Romanowski is prepared to pay $20,000 to win this game. Kerry Collins has a demon to face. The real drama Monday night will involve Kerry Collins, Bill Romanowski and our offensive line.

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