Legal-dictionary.com defines battery as the following:
“an intentional unpermitted act causing harmful or offensive contact with the “person” of another.”
With that definition in mind, let’s take a more in depth look at the Nick Collins situation.
Nick Collins, safety for the Green Bay Packers, was recently in the middle of controversy after getting into a confrontation with a Chicago fan after the Packers Monday night loss to the Bears on September 27th. Collins was seen yelling at the fan and then throwing his mouthpiece in his direction, after the fan allegedly used racial slurs towards Collins and then spat on Collins. Packer teammate Donald Driver and Packer’s security pulled Collins away before any further confrontation could occur.
This is not the first time that fans of Chicago sports have been accused of yelling racial slurs towards athletes. Milton Bradley and Jacque Jones have claimed some of the same treatment that Collins received. When Torii Hunter was a member of the Minnesota Twins, he had the Cubs on his “no-trade” list of teams due to the perceived racial problems in Chicago.
There have been numerous articles and comments all over the Sports blogging world on how Collins was wrong in how he responded to the situation, how he should have been the professional and walked away, or gotten security involved. That is a lot easier said than done. In one sense or another, everyone who is reading this is a professional. Put yourself in the Collins position; you are at work and an irate customer comes up to you, calls you out your name, and spits on you. How likely are you to just “walk away?”
In my 6pm-6am hustle, I am a law enforcement officer and as someone who has personally been spat on multiple times, walking away is one of the MOST DIFFICULT things one can ever do. I am not going to sit here on my “soap box” and say that I didn’t respond in a similar fashion any of the times I was spat on, and much like Nick Collins, I was glad I had a “Donald Driver-esque” person there to de-escalate the situation.
Section 720 ILCS Criminal Code of 1961 Section 12-3 of the Illinois Compiled Statues defines battery as a Class A misdemeanor which can carry up to a year in jail and / or various fines. Even though spitting may not have caused any physical harm, it is still considered battery based on the insulting or offensive nature. An actual injury is not required for battery to occur.
The NFL has yet to react to the incident and as of October 1st, according to an anonymous NFL source
“We are continuing to review the facts”
I would be very surprised if the NFL decided to take any actions against Collins as he was the victim of a criminal act and as citizen of the United States, you have the right to protect / defend yourself against any assault or battery. If the NFL decides to take some sanction against Collins, it invites more debauchery and rowdy behavior from fans throughout the league.
While I’m disappointed that Collins apologized for the incident, I understand why he had to do it.
Everyone has their breaking point, and unless you have been in a similar situation, don’t be so quick to judge how Collins reacted in this situation.