Jermichael Finley has been somewhat of a pain in the ass to the Green Bay Packers since they drafted him as a 21-year-old out of Texas in 2008.
In his rookie season, he twice deflected blame in the media for plays he clearly screwed up – the first time in a loss to Tennessee when he dropped a pass on fourth down and blamed quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the second in a loss to Jacksonville after he lined up incorrectly on a third-and-goal play and blamed it on “miscommunication.”
I think we were all thinking some variation of, “who the fuck does this guy think he is?” or “nice fucking draft pick, Ted.”
In his second year, Finley exploded on the field, recording 55 receptions, 676 yards and five touchdowns, but he was still being an idiot off the field, even if most of us didn’t know it. Finley was consistently late for meetings, he missed curfew the night before the Packers’ playoff loss to Arizona, he left the Packers’ training camp dorms without permission and then there was the agent ordeal.
Finley’s agents since he left Texas have been, in order: Major Adams, Blake Baratz, Major Adams and Blake Baratz. Adams is Tennessee Titans’ quarterback Vince Young’s uncle and generally considered a douche in NFL circles.
Adams, Finley and Young would engage in late night sessions of debauchery in their native Texas until, as Greg Bedard puts it, Finley woke up.
“Since I was a kid, I was one of those people who was held up on a pedestal 24-7 where I couldn’t do anything wrong, always got that good talk about how great I was,” Finley said. “Got to the league and still wanted that, but that first year I realized it was no joke. I think that second year I geared up for sure.
“I thought the on-the-field things would get you a ticket out. Obviously, the off-the-field stuff gets you where you want to be. I realize that now.”
Something clicked for Finley in March when he dumped Adams and returned to Baratz. He’s sat down with Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy, general manager Ted Thompson, vice president of football administration Russ Ball, director of player development Rob Davis and tight ends coach Ben McAdoo and professed a change in attitude.
Finley says he wants to be the best tight end ever, which is a pretty lofty goal, but he’s also looking at the short term and playing for a big contract. His current deal expires after 2011.
“I know the kinds of guys they want, the Greg Jennings, the Aaron Rodgers, the Nick Collins, the Ryan Picketts,” Finley said. “Those are the kind of guys they depend on. I want to be one of them.”
Now all he needs to do is prove it.
Finley certainly has all the physical tools and if he keeps his head out of his ass, maybe he can be one of the best tight ends to ever play the game.
“I want fans to feel they can trust me and believe in me,” Finley said. “The young, immature Finley, I thought he was foolish. And the new Finley, I think is going to do the work, do what he’s supposed to do and be that player the Packers know I can be and all the fans out there too.
“I’ve been ready. Now it’s time for me to be successful and take it to the next level, and that’s what I’m going to do.”