Gary Collins (American football)

Gary James Collins (born August 20, 1940) is a former American football wide receiver and punter who played for the Cleveland Browns from 1962 to 1971.

Gary Collins
refer to caption
Collins at Maryland in 1961
No. 86
Position:Wide receiver, punter
Personal information
Born:August 20, 1940 (age 78)
Williamstown, Pennsylvania
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:215 lb (98 kg)
Career information
NFL Draft:1962 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:5,299
Receiving touchdowns:70
Punting average:41.0
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early life

Born in Williamstown, Pennsylvania, Collins attended Williamstown High School and was recruited by the University of Maryland. During his three seasons (1959–61) with the Terrapins, he established a number of school records, and left his mark on the Atlantic Coast Conference record book as well. In 1961, he finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.[1]

NFL career

The Browns chose Collins with the fourth draft pick in the 1962 NFL Draft and immediately made him the starting punter, while also using him as a reserve for veteran receiver Ray Renfro. In 1963, he moved into the starting lineup and led the team with 43 receptions and teamed with quarterback Frank Ryan to pace the league with 13 touchdowns catches. The latter mark broke a team record of nine, established by Dante Lavelli in 1947.

The following year, rookie Paul Warfield became Ryan's top receiver, but Collins developed a knack for coming through in the clutch. The first instance came in the season's second game, when he caught a fourth-down pass from Ryan to set up a go-ahead touchdown against the St. Louis Cardinals. Saving the best for last, Collins sparkled in the 1964 NFL championship game, when he was on the receiving end of three touchdown passes from Ryan and won the game's Most Valuable Player award in the 27-0 upset over the Baltimore Colts.

Building on the spectacular ending to that season, Collins followed with two more excellent campaigns in which he caught more than 50 passes and again finished in double digits in touchdown receptions. In 1965, he led the Browns with 50 receptions for 884 yards, and his average of 46.7 yards per punt topped the NFL. His 56 catches for 946 yards again led the team in 1966.[2]

In 1967, Collins saw his numbers for both receiving and punting drop, but he made his second straight Pro Bowl appearance. The following year, Collins gave up his punting duties, but suffered a severe shoulder injury in the October 5 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The injury kept him out of action until the final week of the regular season and limited him to just nine receptions. While he made the most of those catches by averaging over 25 yards per grab, Collins caught no touchdown passes for the only time in his career.

Collins bounced back in 1969 with 54 catches and 11 touchdown receptions and helped the Browns reach the NFL Championship game for the fourth time in six seasons. In 1970, the punishing life of an NFL receiver began to catch up with him as he suffered from a number of rib injuries that limited him to 26 catches. In the team's December 12 game against the Dallas Cowboys, played in a driving rainstorm which turned the Cleveland Stadium surface into mud, a costly fumble by Collins after being hit in the ribs stopped a key drive and played a role in the team's 6-2 loss, a defeat that helped keep the team out of the postseason.

The ascension of new head coach Nick Skorich in 1971 would eventually develop into a personality conflict between Collins and the new mentor. After just 15 receptions that year, Collins announced during the offseason that he would retire unless he was traded to either the Washington Redskins or New York Jets.[3][4]

Post-NFL career

When neither team was able to work out a deal, Collins retired and took an assistant coaching position with Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. After leaving football altogether, he worked as an insurance agent in Hershey, Pennsylvania and did some broadcasting. Married in 1980, Collins has two children and six grandchildren.[5]


Collins retired with 339 receptions for 5,299 yards and 70 touchdowns. He remains the Browns' leader in career receiving touchdowns, and his reception total ranks second behind that of Ozzie Newsome. As a punter, he averaged 41.0 yards per attempt.

Those numbers have led some of Collins' supporters to launch a quiet campaign for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, citing the similarities between Collins' career numbers and those of Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Lynn Swann.

Gary Collins is a member of The Pigskin Club Of Washington, D.C. National Collegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll.

In 2016, the Professional Football Researchers Association named Collins to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2016 [6]


  1. ^ Pac-10 in the Heisman Voting (PDF), Pacific-10 Conference, p. 4, 2005.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2016". Retrieved December 9, 2016.

Other sources

  • Grossi, Tony (2004). Tales from the Browns Sideline. (Champaign, Ill.): Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 1-58261-713-9
  • Stewart, Todd, ed. (2004) Cleveland Browns 2004 Media Guide. New York: National Communications Group.
  • Carroll, Bob, et al. (1999) Total Football II. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-270174-6.
Collins (surname)

The surname Collins has a variety of likely origins in Britain and Ireland:

Anglo-Saxon: A patronymic surname based on the name Colin, an English diminutive form of Nicholas. In England, Collins usually signified "son of Colin."

Irish: "cuilein" = darling, a term of endearment applied to a whelp or young animal. The medieval surname was Ua Cuiléin, which has usually become Ó Coileáin today.

Welsh: Collen = hazel, hazel grove.Alternative spellings or related surnames include Collin, Colling, Coling, Collings, Colings, Collis, Coliss, Collen, and Collens.

A great number of Welsh origin surnames share a similar etymology to English ones - Where in English names the forename of the patriarch is suffixed with 'SON' (as in Peterson, Richardson, Johnson) in Welsh names the 'SON' is simply the letter "S" (Phillips, Davies, Davis, Williams) and Collins may have been one of the surnames to have originated in this way.

The Domesday Book (compiled in 1086) was the first to document names in England and Wales and at this time only the upper classes were literate. During the time between this and the first census of 1801 names continually changed due to the illiterate nature of the British population. Indeed, the need to be able to complete such documents may be a key factor in the change to fixed spellings.

The earliest documented evidence of the name in England dates back as far as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries where several instances have been recorded. One Colinus de Andresia appears in the pipe rolls of Berkshire in 1191, while a Colinus is mentioned in Hartopp's Register of the Freeman of Leicester recorded in 1196. The name Colinc is also mentioned several times in the Domesday Book. The personal name Colin from which the surname derives has an even older history; Ceawlin, the king of the West Saxons, Caelin, a brother of St Chad, and the early Welsh saint, Kollen, all have names related to Colin. In Ireland, Collins is a genuinely indigenous Irish name; in fact, it is one of the most numerous surnames, ranked number 30.

Gary Collins

Gary Collins may refer to:

Gary Collins (actor) (1938–2012), American film and television actor

Gary Collins (American football) (born 1940), American football end and punter for the Cleveland Browns

Gary Collins (Canadian politician) (born 1963), Canadian politician

Gary Collins (Idaho politician) (born 1942), Republican Idaho State Representative

Gary Collins (ice hockey) (born 1935), NHL player for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Gary Collins (racing driver) (born 1960), NASCAR driver

Gary Collins (baseball coach), retired college head coach

Gary Collins (Executive Producer) CEO of Red Rock Entertainment


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