He takes you on a tattoo tour of a leg that starts with the year of that memorable birth. 1993.
“I was just kind of sitting around. I had always wanted one, but I didn’t know what I wanted to get,” Collins says. “It kind of made sense since football meant so much to me, I just wanted to get kind of a collage of where I started. The bottom of the leg is the year I was born. On this side is my little league team. Rams. And this is my high school team. This is our high school logo … we were the Wolves so I put a wolf right here. Going to Dallas, there’s (the Cowboys’ stadium) and the star.”
He pauses at the calf. The most recent addition.
A huge tiger head, the biggest item in the collection.
“I was always kind of wondering what I was going to put there,” Collins says. ‘I signed here.’ Perfect.”
There’s also a clue to what he hopes is next in the small letters “MLM.” He stands for his record label, “Major League Music,” a venture that currently has two artists and one he hopes to expand after finding a studio in Cincinnati.
“All kinds of music,” Collins says. “Hip Hop. R and B. Rap. Gospel. Doesn’t matter.”
To him, versatility means more than speed in pass pro and power in the run game. He’s invested in a recent movie starring Tyrese Gibson and Harvey Keitel, “Hard Matter,” and spent a day on the set in Biloxi, Miss. And, he’s running a trucking company in Dallas with his brother, Collins Brothers Line Haul.
You can see Loyetta’s hand all over the stick shift.
“It’s important to me to diversify,” Collins says. “Seeing how my mom just straight out worked at everything and just grinding, that showed me there’s more than one way to make a living. Once I got the opportunity to be in position to extend my portfolio, I want to be able to take advantage of that.”
If you want to know what kind of player the Bengals are getting in Collins, just go to the mother on Father’s Day.
“I asked him a question one day. I said, ‘La’el, are you a dirty player?'” Loyetta recalls. “He said, ‘No, mom. I’m not a dirty player. I’m just a tough player. I’m an effective player. I play hard. I grind.’ He said, ‘They’ve got some wicked dudes out there and they’ll do anything to hurt you. Cripple you to take you off the field. I don’t play like that. I just play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.’
“I said, ‘OK, thank you.'”
She is looking forward to seeing him play for his new team. But she’s unsure because of COVID and her heart just how many games she can get to.
“I got the suite for you Momma,” Collins reminds her of his tickets at Paul Brown Stadium. “So you’re going to be good.”
On either Mother’s or Father’s Day.