JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jaguars offensive lineman Richard Collier, who needed three surgeries to save his life after he was shot 14 times on Sept. 2, is finally off life support, but will never play football again, his doctor and his sports agent said on Monday.
"When he came into this hospital ... there was probably very little hope that he would live," NFL agent Jeff Jankovich said.
One bullet fractured his spine, leaving him paralyzed him from the waist down. Part of his left leg had to be amputated.
Jankovich credited Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center with saving Collier's life, threatened not only by the shooting, but subsequent infections, including pneumonia.
"He's very fortunate to have survived these injuries," surgeon Andy Kerwin said. "Many patients that get extensive injuries like this don't survive."
Collier was shot as he and former teammate Kenneth Pettway were waiting outside a Riverside apartment for two women they were out with earlier in the evening. The shooting remains unsolved, although detectives said they believe Collier was targeted by the gunman.
Calling him both a client and a friend, Jankovich said Collier is off life-support and able to talk with family and friends. Doctors said Collier will be able to leave the hospital soon.
"Richard had a very difficult road in front of him," Jankovich said. "For those of us that know him, we know he's up to the challenge."
Jankovich said Collier is used to challenges. Collier was not recruited out of high school and worked in the produce department at Wal-Mart while attending a community college. He transferred to Valdosta State University and was able to catch the eye of NFL scouts.
The Jaguars picked him up as an unrestricted free agent in 2006.
Jankovich said the family wanted very little information on his condition released -- even to his Jaguars family -- until Collier had recovered enough to understand his own situation. Coach Jack Del Rio and several players attended Monday's briefing to learn more about Collier's condition.
"Everybody was in shock because we haven't been updated that much about Rich's condition, and when we found that out it was just a big shock to us all," said Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee. "Every week, we're thinking about him and wondering how he's doing. This was pretty devastating news. We can only hope that his condition will improve."
"It's unfair that it happened to Rich. This guy was a good guy. He never started problems with anyone -- didn't want trouble. All he wanted to do was work hard," said offensive lineman Khalif Barnes.
Former offensive coordinator and now head coach at Valdosta State, where Collier played college ball, said the team has been heart broken since they learned of the shooting.
"Completely saddened. You always wonder how somebody who's such a good person and such a pleasant person to be around, how it could happen to somebody like that," said Valdosta Head Coach David Dean.
With a reward of $26,000 for information on the gunman, Jaguars fans said they couldn't understand why no one has come forward with information.
The team put Collier on injured reserve a few days after the shooting when it was clear his injuries would cause him to miss the season. Now that he will never be able to play football again and his injuries were not related to his football career, it is unclear what will become of his contract with the Jaguars.
"Now that he's able to communicate, he's off the life-support, we'll be able to talk a little about that -- what we may be able to do," Del Rio said. "I know his teammates want to be here for him, and we'll try to do something."
Jankovich said he would continue to work to make sure the team, the players union and the NFL would do what's right for his client.
"I'm going to do my best to make sure that's handled for him," Jankovich said.
- September 10, 2008: Woman With Collier On Night Of Shooting Speaks Out
- September 9, 2008: Teammates Add To Reward In Collier Shooting Case
- September 5, 2008: Report: Collier Making Gradual Improvement
- September 3, 2008: Jaguars Tackle Critical After Shooting