Colts WR Austin Collie went from Peyton Manning’s favorite target to out of the league.
Sit down, Colts fans. It’s time to reminisce about the strange tale of Austin Collie.
He’s been top of mind a lot lately, after all.
The first photos of Philip Rivers in a Colts uniform couldn’t help but evoke the memories of days gone by, as the No. 17, matted against beautiful blue, made it back to the mainstream.
So, what ever happened to Collie? And why did a grinder like him deserve this nasty fate?
Straight out of BYU with a chip on his shoulder, Collie went to the Colts in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. Though moderately unheralded, he wasn’t without pedigree — he won Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors in 2004, took MVP honors in the ’07 Las Vegas Bowl, and posted the most receiving yards, both in total and per game, in the NCAA in 2008.
Collie parlayed that fantastic junior season directly into the NFL Draft, and immediately became a Jim Caldwell favorite during the ’09 preseason, swapping spots on the depth chart with impressive youngster Pierre Garcon.
It seemed the two of them would define the next decade of Colts football, picking up the slack for Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Unfortunately, it was not to be — Collie was subject to the rigors of some terrible breaks in the pro game.
First came the head-on collision against the Eagles in November of 2010. Then came a hit to the head by Jaguars LB Daryl Smith only one month later, which prematurely ended his season. He returned in 2011, but only hauled in a single touchdown, following two seasons of 7 and 8 TDs to start his career.
Likely a combination of the concussive after-effects and a series of fits and starts, Collie had bounced to the Patriots roster by 2013, subject to myriad cuts. His career, by and large, was over.
From Peyton Manning’s favorite target, in Clark’s stead, to out of the NFL by the middle of the decade … wild.
A tragic tale, only made worse in recent days by the emergence of his No. 17 front and center, on our most prominent player.