Really great piece in the New York Times by Karen Crouse today on the recovery of former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Richard Collier after he was paralyzed from the waist down and lost his left leg after a shooting before the regular season started.
Collier is lucky to be alive right now, because he took 14 bullets in his back, leg, groin, and various other areas. Even after a tragedy that takes your ability to walk and your career, he’s looking at the positive and doing his damndest in his hope to walk again someday.
As Collier talked about wanting to make a difference, there were signs that he already had. He recently read a card sent to defensive end Paul Spicer from a man who said he was considering suicide. The man wrote that if Collier could handle losing a leg and his N.F.L. career, who was he to despair?
“Tell Rich when you see him that he’s actually saved my life,” the man wrote to Spicer.
Collier was stunned.
He said, “It’s not every day that somebody tells you, ‘Hey, I’m alive because of you.’ ”
The man accused of shooting Collier is apparently someone who may have held a grudge against him from a previous confrontation with the former player.
It’s fascinating to read pieces like this, when you see what happens when the game is taken away from those who played it, whether by tragic end or simply the end of the career. What do you do to move on? If you’re Collier, you hope to talk to schools about gun violence and being an inspiration to them. Would that we all could be so resolute in the face of a jarring change in our lives.