Former Ravens running back Alex Collins, who captivated fans with his downhill running style and Irish dancing celebrations during a breakout 2017 season, died Sunday night when his motorcycle collided with a car in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
Collins, 28, struck the rear passenger side of an SUV that was crossing lanes at about 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to police. The impact caused Collins to enter the car’s window, and he came to a stop inside the vehicle. Collins was pronounced dead on the scene, according to police.
Authorities are investigating the crash, and the driver of the SUV is cooperating. Under state law, she has not been identified by police.
“With heavy hearts, we mourn the passing of Alex Collins,” the Ravens said in a statement Monday. “Always quick to greet everyone with a smile, he was a genuinely kind person who carried a special joy and passion wherever he went. May Alex always be remembered for the light and love he brought to so many people in his life.”
Collins led the NFL in yards per carry for part of his debut season in Baltimore, finishing 2017 with 973 yards (11th in the league), 4.6 yards per carry (ninth) and six rushing touchdowns (tied for 14th). He also ranked third in rushing efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, helping to prop up a Ravens offense with a moribund passing attack.
Collins, who’d incorporated Irish dancing into his offseason routine, became well known for his Irish jig celebrations. His skills inspired a nickname, Mitchell Findley, a nod to famous Irish-American dancer Michael Flatley.
“Alex was a joy to be around and someone whose light shined brightly,” coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “I’ll always remember him for being a great teammate who had an uplifting spirit that impacted everyone he encountered. He was also a smart player who ran with unlimited determination, and he contributed to a lot of our success during his time in Baltimore. We send our heartfelt condolences and support to Alex’s family. May he now rest in God’s eternal peace.”
Collins, a star at Arkansas and fifth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2016, joined the Ravens’ practice squad ahead of the 2017 season and was promoted to the 53-man roster in Week 2. But he struggled to build on his breakout season in 2018. He was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury in early December, prematurely ending his season with just 3.6 yards per carry.
He was waived in March 2019 after he was arrested following a car crash in Owings Mills. He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug and gun charges. Collins spent the 2019 season out of football before finishing his NFL career with the Seahawks. He played 14 games over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, rushing for a combined 488 yards and four touchdowns.
Collins signed with the USFL’s Memphis Showboats this past January but was placed on injured reserve in May.
In a statement released by the Seahawks, Collins’ family said information on his funeral arrangements would be forthcoming.
“Alex was cherished by his family and friends as well as supporters from all around the world,” the family said. “All who truly know him can attest to his drive, determination, and larger-than-life personality. We kindly request your thoughts and prayers for our family during this difficult time. We ask for privacy as we navigate through our grief.”