Finley has the height (6-foot-5) and uses his strong build to create space. On top of all his physical attributes, Finley was known for having great hands and he showed this early on in his career.
In 2011, Finley had his breakout season in Green Bay. He finished the season with 55 receptions for 767 yards and eight touchdowns. It was the season that everyone expected from Finley, and he instantly became one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets.
Following his breakout season, Finley had to deal with injury issues along with some character flaws. Instantly, many of Finley’s fans became critics and the negative comments started.
Several fans and analysts believed the Packers should get rid of Finley, as he seemed to become a problem for the team both on and off the field. However, Finley didn’t take any of the criticism to heart and begin to change his attitude and his overall approach both on and off the playing field.
This season, Finley had coaches bragging about his game. Before the season began, head coach Mike McCarthy said of Finley, “He’s having his finest training camp, I think it’s clear cut.” These were positive words about the tight end and made many Packers fan believe that Finley was back.
Early on in the season, Finley looked strong. He was averaging 60-yards a game and had three touchdowns. The drops seemed to no longer be a problem and the connection between Rodgers and Finley was finally coming together. Unfortunately, injuries started to pile on for Finley.
In Week 2 against the Washington Redskins, Finley caught a pass late in the game and was hit in the head. Finley went to the ground and instantly, and you knew he was concussed. Finley left the game on his two feet but missed the Packers’ Week 3 game. He continued to work and got back to 100 percent and exploded on the scene quickly. It was a true testament to his resiliency and showed that Finley is a tough guy who just won’t stay down.
However, in Week 7, Finley suffered an injury that many believed would change his life and his career forever.
In the second half against the Cleveland Browns, Finley went across the middle and caught a slant from Rodgers. As he was going to the ground, Finley lowered his head and shoulder to protect himself. Browns safety Tashaun Gipson lowered his head and hit Finley right above his neckline. Finley was driven into the ground and laid on the ground, lifeless.
Packers backup tight end Andrew Quarless ran up to Finley and heard him say something he never expected. Finley told Quarless, “Help me, Q. I can’t move. I can’t breathe.” Finley saw the fear in Quarless’ eyes and that was when he knew something was seriously wrong.
Training crew members and medics rushed onto the field to tend to Finley. He was immediately immobilized and taken off on a stretcher to be rushed to a nearby hospital. Thankfully, he regained feeling in all of his extremities and was diagnosed with a spinal contusion.
Finley has rejoined the team but is seeking several opinions on what his options are. The team must decide whether or not they will put Finley on IR or allow him to stay active.
It is a scary example of what football brings to the table. It’s a vicious contact sport that puts players’ lives at stake.
Finley has a wife and young child so he has a lot of important decisions to make. However, Finley promises this isn’t the end. Regardless, I know he will make the best decision for him and his family. He has proven to me and others that he can overcome all odds.
Finley’s career and life can be summed up from a quote by Napoleon Hill who said, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”