GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers safety Nick Collins says he should have just walked away, no matter what a fan might have done or said to him after Monday night's loss at Chicago.
Collins apologized to his team and his fans Wednesday for drawing negative attention to the Packers after he confronted a fan as he left the field and threw his mouthpiece into the stands.
"This is a situation that I could have walked away from but, you know, heat of the moment," Collins said. "Things happen. Both sides (were) out of line."
Collins' teammates are firmly in his corner, saying fans cross the line when their taunts turn personal.
"The fans are taking it too far," Packers wide receiver Donald Driver said. "This is a game where we go out here and we try to have fun playing it. I think the fans are taking it too far when they start talking about you, your family. They don't know your family."
Collins was walking toward the locker room when he stopped and got into a shouting match with a fan. Milwaukee's WITI-TV captured video of the incident, reporting that the fan spit on Collins and used a racial slur.
NFL and Bears officials are looking into the incident, and Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday that he supports Collins "100 percent." Collins declined to go into details Wednesday, but he didn't dispute the original report.
Was Collins surprised to hear a fan use a racial slur, even in 2010?
"You know, it's going to happen," Collins said. "I'm probably not the only guy that's been in that situation before. It happens. I'm a professional. I've got to be a bigger person and keep walking."
But teammates said they can't always be expected to ignore fans' taunts.
"When it gets personal, (what) do you do? Your mom always teaches you, or your dad teaches you, to turn the other cheek," Driver said. "But sometimes you can't. You get frustrated, especially after you lose a game. And you react. I just think the fans need to be more respectful to what we do."
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said fans need to put themselves in players' shoes.
"I think fans sometimes forget we're human," Rodgers said. "And then some fans think that because they're behind the rail, or gate, or stadium fence, that that gives them the right to do whatever they want. I'm not really going to talk about what did happen or did not happen. To be honest, I don't really know. But I do know that we are human first, we are people, and we have feelings. I think fans should remember that sometimes."
Offensive lineman Daryn Colledge said it sounded like the fan engaged in behavior that would have been considered way out of line even on the field.
"Obviously, when it gets to the point where somebody's being spit on or racially slandered, that's a little far," Colledge said. "We're guys in there competing at the most physical level, and I don't think that happens too much on the field. So if it's happening from fans, it's tough."
Collins said he appreciated support from McCarthy and his teammates.
"They've got my back," Collins said. "They understand the situation. They know me as a person, anybody in here knows me as a person, I'm not that type of guy. I'm a laid-back, soft-spoken guy. It's just heat of the moment."
And no, Collins wasn't sure if he hit what he was aiming for when he threw his mouthpiece, allowing that it could turn up on eBay next.
"I don't know," he jokingly said. "It might be."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press