Kerry Collins didn’t intend to relinquish his job at No. 1 quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, after all. It was all a mistake. A misunderstanding.
Agent Leigh Steinberg said Friday that Collins just “blew off some steam” and never meant for his Wednesday morning conversation with Panthers coach Dom Capers to become public record.
It was in that conversation, according to Capers, Collins said his “heart wasn’t into it” and asked to be removed from the lineup.
Capers revealed that request Wednesday, and immediately named veteran Steve Beuerlein the starter and promoted third-stringer Shane Matthews to the No. 2 spot.
On Friday, Capers took Collins off the active roster, and said the quarterback would not travel to Dallas for Sunday’s game between the Panther and the Cowboys.
“I think that Kerry was frustrated, all the Panthers are frustrated, everyone in Charlotte’s frustrated about the opening record and about the blowout that happened on Sunday [a 51-23 loss at Atlanta],” Steinberg said during an interview Friday on a Charlotte radio station. “And I think that in a discussion we thought was going to be very private, he just blew off some steam.
“I think the blowout led to all sorts of different things, but I’m not sure in those situations that you always want to take literally every single word that a frustrated player says ... I’m not sure Kerry went into that room with the intention that that was going to be the last discussion he ever had.”
Collins has not spoken publicly since his conversation with Capers, but the coach said Collins’ intent was clear.
“He came in, said his heart was not into it, and felt that he’d be letting some of his teammates down if he played that way, with that type of an attitude,” Capers said Friday. “That’s initially what he said. It evolved to where there were things that were discusses. I’m not going to go into all the details of the conversation.”
Capers said the Panthers had to go with Beuerlein right away because of the timing of the conversation, which took place when the Panthers began to install their game plan for the Dallas matchup.
“I don’t know how there could be a misunderstanding,” Capers said. “[The conversation] happened on a day where you’re getting ready to play the Dallas Cowboys. Do you put the whole team aside and you go out and waste a day of preparation? You have to move on and decisions have to be made, and our No. 1 priority is this football team.”
Steinberg was critical of Capers for making the conversation public so quickly.
“Let me just say I think those were private discussions that were intended to be private,” said Steinberg, who said he did not speak with Collins before the meeting Wednesday. “I have the utmost respect for Dom Capers, but it might have been helpful if things hadn’t become public so quickly.”
Capers said Collins went public first.
“I can’t understand why it would be a private discussion if Kerry went down and announced it to the quarterbacks [at their Wednesday meeting],” Capers said. “I don’t know how you keep something like that private.”
At the same time he criticized Capers, Steinberg said he was trying to build a bridge to put Collins back into the Panthers’ organization and that “I believe he’s still got a lot of football to play in Charlotte.”
“Just stay tuned and watch and I’m not positive what will happen, but I think that more constructive discussions are taking place,” Steinberg said on “Charlotte’s Morning News with Al Gardner,” on WBT-1110. ... “I don’t want to say an enormous amount it publicly because people are talking privately at this point. But just how that I’m not sure what was reported is the whole picture of how Kerry Collins feels.”
Of course, Capers clarified how he felt when he took Collins off the roster and told him to stay home.
“I felt it would be better for our football team to not have the distraction of having Kerry with us and on the sideline based on what’s transpired this week,” Capers said.
Collins’ brother, Patrick, said Friday night that he can’t imagine Kerry remaining with Carolina.
“He’s got to get out of Charlotte, that’s for sure,” said Patrick Collins, who said he hasn’t spoken with Kerry since he was dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart. “Those people detest [Kerry]. I was down there last year and I saw how those people hated him, so I’m surprised he’s even there at all this year.”
He might not be for long. Asked if Collins had a future with the Panthers, Capers said: “I’d rather not comment on that. Right now, Kerry’s our third string quarterback and he’s inactive this week. As I’ve said before, we’re not going to close the door on any options.”
Those options include trading Collins before the NFL trade deadline at 4 PM Tuesday, or releasing him. The Panthers continue to seek offers for Collins in the hopes of obtaining a draft pick or two.
Sat. OCt. 10. 1998