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Why Running Back Alex Collins Wears a Super Dark Facemask Visor

Posted Dec 13, 2017

The breakout Ravens running back said he’s been dealing with migraine headaches since high school, and they used to be so bad that they made him throw up before games.

Alex Collins doesn’t wear his super-dark black facemask visor just because it looks hardcore. 

He wears it because it helps him stiff-arm migraine headaches.

The Ravens’ breakout running back shed light Wednesday on the migraines that have been a challenge to overcome during his young career, and something he still deals with on a daily basis.

“I’m used to playing with them and dealing with it. Some are a little more severe than others, but for the most part, I’ll push through it,” Collins said.

Collins said he was approved by the league to wear the visor in the second or third week of the preseason. He also wears it during practice.

“The dark visor has really done a lot,” he said. “Over the past few weeks, I haven’t had [migraines] at all.”

Collins said he’s been dealing with migraines since high school. They used to be so bad that they made him throw up before taking the field.

The first time the problem became public knowledge in Baltimore this season was after the team’s 44-20 win over the Detroit Lions, in which Collins ran 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Afterwards, he was not available to talk to the media because he was in too much pain.

Collins said the headaches are triggered when he squints his eyes to try to block out sunlight. That stress of squinting brings on the pain, so he instead wears the visor so his face can relax.

“It’s like playing in the shade all the time,” Collins said. “When I’m able to play with a relaxed face out there, reading my keys and knowing what I need to be doing without that strain in my eyes, the migraines don’t happen.”

Collins has emerged as the Ravens' top offensive playmaker and one of the NFL’s best stories.

After being selected in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks last year, Collins spent his rookie season buried on the depth chart and then was released by Seattle at the end of training camp.

It wasn’t just that Seattle missed out on appreciating his talent. So did everyone else in the league because Collins went unclaimed on waivers.

The Ravens signed him to their practice squad on Sept. 5, and he was brought up to the active roster two weeks later. Baltimore first promoted Jeremy Langford, but cut him two days later after Collins stood out in practice.

By Week 8, Collins had the starting role, and he delivered with the first 100-yard game (113) of his career in a 40-0 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.

It’s no coincidence that since that game, the Ravens have averaged the second-most points scored per game in the NFL (31.3), only trailing the Philadelphia Eagles. For an offense that struggled for so much of the year, Collins gave it a spark and the passing game is now following.

"Alex has been kind of electric," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's been a difference-maker for us."

“A lot of teams find runners in a lot of places and we obviously got fortunate with Alex,” quarterback Joe Flacco added. “The speed that he’s brought to our football team and our running game right now has definitely been huge.”

Despite his late start, Collins is ninth in the league in rushing yards (825) and tied for third among running backs in yards per carry (5.1).

He’s also grown as a pass-catching weapon as well. His 37-yard catch and run in Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football, in which he split a pair of Steelers defenders was “Good Morning Football’s” Angry Run of the Week.

Despite his chill temperament, there’s definitely a beast behind that menacing facemask. Who cares if it’s only to prevent headaches?

“I like to put my stamp on it to let the other team know it’s about to be a long game,” Collins said.

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