Collier takes part in pregame ceremony

Updated: December 19, 2008, 4:36 PM ET
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Richard Collier participated in the pregame coin toss ceremony at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium before the Jacksonville Jaguars's loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday, an experience he said gave him chills.

[+] EnlargeRichard Collier
AP Photo/Phil CoaleRichard Collier joined his Jaguars teammates on the sideline for the national anthem and heard fans chanting his name.
Wednesday, Collier returned to the stadium, which also houses team headquarters, for the first time since he was shot 14 times on Sept. 2 while sitting in a car in an apartment parking lot. His left leg was amputated below the knee and he is paralyzed below the waist as a result of the wounds.

"Believe it or not, this is the happiest I've been my whole life," he said. "I've learned a lot, I've grown from this situation and I've surprised myself how I've come out of it, so I feel real good... Once I got here, man, I just felt normal. I was like, 'I'm back at home.' Everybody showed me love and it was good."

Wednesday he visited with the team for the first time since the shooting, encouraging players to enjoy life. Before he rolled out to midfield in a motorized wheelchair, fans chanted his last name after he appeared on the stadium's video screens.

"I never had my name chanted before, so that was real good," he said.

Collier left a rehabilitation center and went home last week but said he's still had plenty of physical therapy and that the people he works with are always "stretching me out."

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Among the messages he took in was one from Jaguar quarterbacks coach Mike Shula.

"[He] told me his daughters prayed for me every night," Collier said. " ...I'll be around. I'm a Jag for life. I'll always come around and support the team."

Tyrone Romaro Hartsfield has been charged with attempted murder in Collier's shooting. He pleaded not guilty but remains jailed without bond. Authorities believe Hartsfield retaliated against Collier for an altercation they had earlier this year at a nightclub.

Paul Kuharsky covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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