Collins apologizes, vows to change

New Orleans Saints quarterback Kerry Collins doesnt think he has a drinking problem. Collins, however, does believe he has another problem.

Collins, arrested after an evening of drinking with his former teammates, apologized and admitted he was on the verge of blowing his second -- and possibly last -- chance in the NFL.

I realize that Im at a critical juncture in my career as an NFL quarterback, Collins said Tuesday, a day after he was arrested for drunken driving in North Carolina. Im very disappointed in myself and Ive disappointed this organization. In light of this, Im recommitting myself on and off the football field.

Collins was arrested in Charlotte early Monday. A state highway patrol trooper found he had a blood alcohol content of .14 percent. A reading of .08 is considered legally drunk in North Carolina.

Collins posted $1,000 bond and returned to New Orleans to face a coach and teammates who counted on him to upgrade their struggling offense.

His hands trembling, voice catching nervously, Collins read from a statement that he said he prepared himself. In the statement, Collins apologized and said his behavior was more than unacceptable, it was a careless and immature and showed a severe lack of judgment.

I completely accept full responsibility for my actions, Collins said. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense, one which should not be taken lightly. This is my first offense and it will be my only offense.

Collins refused to discuss the specifics of his arrest, saying his lawyer had advised him not to.

Once a rising star for the newly established Carolina Panthers, Collins left in disgrace last month after Coach Dom Capers said Collins told him hed lost his heart for the game and among charges of drinking problems amid charges of drinking problems and racist comments.

When Collins was placed on waivers, the Saints were the only team willing to take a chance. Before his arrest, Collins was scheduled to start for New Orleans on Nov. 15 and was expected to discuss a new contract with the team after the season.

Now, he isnt sure when hell play for the Saints.

Collins said he also realized the events of the past few months will hurt his value for a new contract, but he believes he can change that.

I think there comes a certain point where you say enough is enough, and I think Ive come to that point, Collins said. I think I can come out of this in a positive way. I feel as though I have just basically had enough.

I feel I can still come back and be a leader of this team. ... Obviously its going to take me busting my butt to win everybody over, but I plan to do that.

Collins refused to say if he would plead guilty to the alcohol charge.

If Collins is convicted or pleads guilty, he would be subject to the policies spelled out inthe NFL collective bargaining agreement that deal with alcohol abuse. A first-time offender could be fined up to $20,000 and be subject to random testing.

The Saints had not decided if they will impose disciplinary action, general manger Bill Kuharich said.

Collins is to see the Saints doctor for testing within the next week.

Collins said he welcomed that evaluation but also said that despite his DWI arrest and charges of drinking problems while he was the Panthers quarterback, he did not believe he had a drinking problem.

I know myself and I dont think I have a problem, Collins said. I think I have a severe lack of judgment, but I dont think I have a problem.

Panthers president Mark Richardson said Tuesday he doesnt know if Collins has a drinking problem.

I dont think you nor I can evaluate that, he said Tuesday.

Asked if the Panthers tried to get Collins help for a drinking problem, Richardson declined to comment.
Nov. 4, 98

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