A conversation with Kerry Collins

Now settled into Oakland's system, quarterback Kerry Collins joined host Rich Eisen on NFL Total Access via Raiders cam and talked about life as a backup after many years as a starter and what happened at the draft. Collins was up front about anything the birthday boy Eisen had to ask.

Rich Eisen: An eventful offseason for Kerry Collins. He went from Giants starter to Raiders back up with a contract that sure looks like it's a starter's contract, and he joins us right now on Raiders cam. How are you Kerry?

Kerry Collins: Doing great, Rich. How you doing?

Eisen: I'm fine. Have you had a chance to catch your breath from what's happened in your life in the last six weeks or so?

Collins: Yeah, it's all happened really fast and I'll tell you, the way things went down in New York, and then coming out here to the West Coast, certainly has been an adventure. But it's been a fun one at that.

Eisen: Okay, let's start from the beginning. I guess from what happened in New York, did the Giants give you any indication at all that they were going to go with a quarterback with the top pick in their draft?

Collins: They didn't personally. (General manager) Ernie Accorsi or (coach) Tom Coughlin -- they didn't say anything to me about what they were going to do. I'm not sure they knew exactly what they were going to do. But obviously there was a lot of speculation leading up to the draft, and of course everybody saw on Draft Day what happened. So yeah, it became clear on Draft Day, but I really didn't have a surefire indication before that.

Eisen: Were you watching the draft yourself?

Collins: Yeah, I did actually. I said I wasn't going to watch it, but I ended up watching it. Boy, what drama, huh? Wasn't that some great drama? And I guess it makes it a little more exciting to be a part of it, but it was some great drama for sure.

Eisen: Yeah, the New York fans in the mix, but you know all about those folks.

Collins: Oh yeah.

Eisen: Making themselves sound vocal. So, Eli Manning 's drafted and your first thought is what, Kerry?

Collins: Well, my first thought was, 'What are they going to do with me?' I heard Tom Coughlin saying that they were going to ask me to do something with my contract and they called me. Tom called me later on that day and wanted me to know not to take anything for granted; not to think that they didn't want me to be their quarterback for this year, but they were going to have to do something with my contract, and we left it at that. On Monday, went in to talk to Ernie Accorsi and told him what my interests were and they decided to make the move.

Eisen: So would you say the fact that you saw so many key things, as in Eli getting drafted and talking about your contractual status, I guess, seeing these things on ESPN of all things, did that hinder any opportunity for you to stay with the Giants or color your thinking in any way in that regard?

Collins: Well, I think, Rich, what I felt was basically that I wasn't going probably to do anything with my contract. That's just something I wasn't interested in. And quite honestly, I wasn't in too much of a mood to help them out at the time, so after hearing that and drafting a young guy for their future, that certainly made my decision pretty clear.

Eisen: So now, obviously you've made your decision. You've gone from the Giants and then the Raiders -- where do they come into play in your whole tour of the NFL landscape?

Collins: The Raiders from the start were the team that was showing the most interest in me. We talked to a lot of teams around the league, but really from Day 1, the Raiders were the team that showed the most interest and were the most serious about wanting me to come to their team. So, the whole process started. Obviously, it wasn't the best timing as far as trying to test the free-agent market. A lot of people at that point already had their quarterback situation set, but even from Day 1, the first day I was cut, we really got a lot of interest from (player personnel assistant) Mike Lombardi and (owner Al) Mr. Davis and they really made me feel like they wanted me to come here.

Eisen: And again, they told you before you signed that you were coming in as the backup to Rich Gannon. That was clear-cut when you signed your name on the dotted line?

Collins: Yeah it was, and a lot of people are trying to make something out of it more than it is. But they told me that from the get-go, and that's the way it's going to be until somebody tells me different.

Eisen: Well, can you understand why people would find that difficult to believe, in a way?

Collins: Yeah, yeah I can. I know that based on my history, I've been a starter in this league for this being my 10th year now. Basically I started every year at some point or another. And obviously, coming from New York, where I had a fair amount of success and that sort of thing, I can see where on the outside it could look that way. But like I said from Day 1, they made it clear that I was going to be the backup and I knew that coming into it.

Eisen: How did your first conversation with Rich Gannon go?

Collins: It went fine. Rich has not shown any animosity toward me. Everything's been completely kosher since I've been here, and Rich has been great. He really treated my coming here very professionally. So there's never been a bad word or bad exchange between the two of us.

Eisen: Give me a glimpse of what the Norv Turner's offense in Oakland is going to look like.

Collins: Well, I think Norv's philosophy is wanting to get the ball down the field. And I think, just having been in and out for four or five weeks, you just look at how he coaches. You look at his philosophy, you look how he wants to attack defenses and he really tries to stretch the ball down the field. And I think that suits me very well. I feel like I can make a lot of throws, and just by being in it and seeing how he wants to attack defenses, I think I'll fit in very well with this offense.

Eisen: So, how are you approaching this? It's definitely a position you really haven't been in for quite some time.

Collins: Yeah, it's a little bit different for me, but the only thing I'm doing right now is trying to learn this offense as well as I can and being the best quarterback that I can be. And I feel like I've got a lot of good football left in me. I'm 31 and I really feel like I'm coming into the best years of my career, so I'm not trying to think about the fact that I'm a backup. I'm just trying to be the best quarterback that I can be, and whatever happens after that happens.

Eisen: Hey Kerry, I've got an e-mail here from somebody clearly who's in Raider Nation because it's from a guy named "Fang." (Collins laughing) Okay, from Fang here, here's the subject: As a fellow Penn State alumnus, what are they key elements about football and life that you earned from Joe Pa (coach Joe Paterno) that you still follow today? And he also wants to let you know you are 31 and Jim Plunkett was that age when he started his Raider career and he hopes you have the same success. But what about Joe Pa? What do you still carry today from him?

Collins: I carry a lot of things from Joe. And it seems that as I get older, the things that he taught myself and my teammates really become more important. You start to see the value in those life lessons. And of course, a lot of them translate to the football field. Just little things about being on time. With Joe, if a meeting started at four o'clock, you better be sitting down at 10 'till four because the meeting was going to start. And if you were late, then he was going to rip you a new one. So just little things like that get hammered home to you when you're at Penn State, and for me, they seem like they've carried me through a lot of good times, a lot of bad times, and I seem to have reverted back to them in times of need.

Eisen: Hey Kerry, if I'm not mistaken, he just signed a new contract that keeps him coach there until he's 105 years old, right?

Collins: (laughing) Yeah, that's about right. I know Joe's been catching a lot of heat up there, but he seems like he's handling it with the grace and attitude that you would expect and listen. Who's going to tell Joe that he's not going to be able to coach at Penn State anymore? That's what I want to know. He's going to be there as long as he wants to be.

Eisen: Well, certainly no one in the administration's going to tell him that. Kerry, thank you for joining us here on Raiders cam. We wish you only the best of luck and we hope to get you back on there very soon.

Collins: Sounds great, Rich, thanks a lot. Happy Birthday, by the way.

Eisen: Hey, thank you, Kerry.

Collins: You bet.

Eisen: I appreciate that. Thank you very much. Kerry Collins spending my birthday with me -- always enjoyable.

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