Collins played for the Giants from 1999 through 2003. He led the team to the 2000 NFC Championship and a berth in Super Bowl XXXV and a 2002 NFC Wild Card Playoff berth.
Collins was released by the Giants in 2004, soon after the Giants drafted
The first-ever draft choice by the Carolina Panthers – and the fifth overall selection of the 1995 draft - Collins played in Carolina until 1998. He also played for the New Orleans Saints (1998), Oakland Raiders (2004-05) and Tennessee Titans (2006-10).
“The past several months have brought on much introspection, and I have decided that while my desire to compete on Sundays is still and always will be there, my willingness to commit to the preparation necessary to play another season has waned to a level that I feel is no longer adequate to meet the demands of the position,” Collins said in a statement released by his agent, David Dunn.
“I feel very fortunate to have played with and to have been coached by some of the greatest the game has ever seen. I feel especially fortunate to have played under some of the true patriarchs of the modern game: Joe Paterno, the late Wellington Mara, Al Davis and Bud Adams.”
Collins ranks ninth in NFL history in both pass attempts (6,163) and completions (3,439). He is 11th in passing yards (40,441) and 29th with 206 touchdown passes. Collins played in 195 regular season games with 177 starts, plus seven postseason games.
His most successful years were spent with the Giants. He was signed as a free agent Feb. 19, 1999 after much research by then-general manager Ernie Accorsi, a close friend of Paterno’s who knew of Collins’ outstanding career at Penn State. After backing up Kent Graham early in his first Giants season, Collins moved into the starting lineup. He started 67 consecutive games before an ankle injury forced him to miss the final three games of the 2003 season. Overall, he started 68 of the 71 games he played for the Giants.
His finest performance as a Giant was in the 2000 NFC Championship Game on Jan. 14, 2001, when he completed 28 of 39 passes for 381 yards and five touchdowns in the Giants’ 41-0 rout of the Minnesota Vikings.
Collins is one of four quarterbacks to lead the Giants to a Super Bowl, joining Phil Simms, Jeff Hostetler and Eli Manning. He is, however, the only one to lose the title game. The Giants fell to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV.
“Kerry Collins played his heart out for the Giants and took us to the Super Bowl,” Accorsi said when Collins was released. “His performance in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota was one of the greatest in the history of this franchise. For that, all of us are grateful to him. More importantly, we are grateful for the class with which he conducted himself.”
Jim Fassel, the Giants’ head coach during Collins’ tenure with the team, said, “I can’t think of a player I was more proud of that I coached than Kerry Collins.”
Collins’ name appears frequently in the Giants’ record book. His 568 pass attempts in 2001 are the most ever by a Giants quarterback and he is fourth in franchise history with 2,473 career attempts. Collins twice threw 59 passes in a game, a number topped only by Simms’ 62 passes at Cincinnati in 1985.
Collins is third in franchise history with 1,447 completions and is second and third on the single-season list with 335 in 2002 and 327 in 2001. His 36 completions vs. Green Bay on Jan. 6, 2002 tie Charlie Conerly for the second-most by a Giant, behind only Simms (40).
Collins completed 58.51 percent of his passes (1,447 of 2,473) as a Giant, the highest percentage in franchise history among quarterbacks that have thrown more than 1,000 passes. On Sept.15, 2002, Collin completed 22 of 26 passes at St. Louis, an 84.61 percentage that is the highest in history by a Giants quarterback with at least 20 passes in a game.
That season, Collins set another Giants record by throwing for 4,073 yards. He is fourth in franchise history with 16,875 yards. Collins’ 17 300-yard passing games as a Giant rank second in team history to Simms’ 21. His five 300-yard passing games in 2001 are another record.
Collins threw 81 touchdown passes and 70 interceptions.
In 2000 and 2001, Collins became the first player in NFL history to throw every pass for the same team in two consecutive seasons. He set an NFL record by throwing 1,852 consecutive regular season passes from Nov. 21, 1999 to Dec. 15, 2002. The streak was broken when Jesse Palmer threw four passes in the fourth quarter of a 37-7 rout of Dallas.
Collins was 35-33 as a regular season starting quarterback with the Giants, including 35-32 in his 67-game streak, which began with six games remaining in the 1999 season.