Green Bay Packers' safey Nick Collins underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck in New York on Thursday, and though many don't want to admit it, it's possible that the Pro Bowler might not just be out for the season, but his NFL career might be in jeopardy.
Collins's injury occurred when he tried to takle running back Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers. Collins, 28, went motionless after his head hit Stewart's hip and fell to the turf.
According to media reports, the prognosis was good after the single fusion to the vertebrae, but it should take about six months to determine whether he will ever return to professional football.
The Packers have yet to label the neck injury as potentially career-threatening. Collins will likely need months to rehab the injury, but the fact that it is not a spinal cord injury is encouraging.
However, it might remain difficult to tell the extent of the injury, casting doubt on Collins's comeback.
Sometimes the diagnosis can be difficult in terms of determining what's the pain generator and what structure has been damaged, so that we can provide adequate treatment, said Tom Wascher, a neurosurgeon at Neuro Spine Center of Wisconsin in Appleton, according to FOX 11 online, a Green Bay new station.
What might be discouraging to Collins is the case of former Packer teammate Jeremey Thompson. The outside linebacker suffered a similar injury and retired, as have many other NFL players.
There are examples of players battling through neck injuries like safety Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens. Reed, has stated that he would retire if he needed multiple neck surgeries like Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning.
I don't want to be like these guys having neck surgery, then you got to go have another surgery just to continue to play this game, Reed told ESPN in June. I love this game but I love myself more.