Jamie Collins has always been misunderstood.
On Wednesday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot pulled back the curtain on the former Foxborough star’s past, including his time with the Patriots.
"You can say hurt feelings, but this a pro game and I can't control anything like that,'' Collins said in the piece when prompted to speak on the trade that sent shock waves throughout the NFL last season. "If the guys upstairs feel it's time for me to go, then it's time for me to go no matter what.''
With the amount of media coverage surrounding the Patriots, it was only a matter of time after the trade was announced before the inevitable rumors, conspiracy theories, and accusations would begin clouding public perception. Eventually the narratives would pit Collins as a lazy, money-motivated individualist who “free-styled” too much on the field.
"I let them say what they want to say, because at the end of the day, no one really knows what went on unless you're there,'' Collins said. "That's not my worry. I'm not competing against outsiders.'
In the wake of being shipped to a basement dwelling organization after three and a half excellent seasons in Foxborough, one would expect a player to have developed feelings of animosity and resentment towards the man who exiled him — Bill Belichick. But Jamie Collins does not.
"I love Bill,'' Collins told Cabot. "He's a great coach. Smart, everything.”
It’s easy to initially feel surprised after hearing or reading Collins’ comments of understanding and even appreciation towards Belichick and the team — that is, until you come to the realization that, for the rural Mississippi native, being traded from one NFL team to another is far from being a low point in his life.
As an adolescent, Collins lost both of his parents, as well as his closest older brother Frederick to genetic heart disease. His 20-year-old sister Lisa became the head of the household, doing whatever was necessary to care for her four remaining brothers.
"Sometimes I'd go stay with my auntie or my other auntie or my uncle, or I'd go stay with a cousin for a while,'' Collins said. "That's how it was. That's life. You've got to do what you've got to do to survive.''
"When life hits you, it hits.'' Collins went on to tell Cabot.
Life hit Collins in an entirely different way this past January as he signed a four-year $50 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.