Green Bay Packers tight end [intlink id=”209″ type=”category”]Jermichael Finley[/intlink] is motivated by:
A. Another Packers’ Super Bowl run
B. The fact the Packers keep adding tight ends to the roster
D. All of the above
I think we all know the answer to the question is D. We could probably add another reason — The idea of becoming the best tight end in football — and make the answer E. if we wanted to.
Obviously, Finley has a lot of reasons to be motivated.
The first reason is the meniscus injury he suffered last October, that sidelined him for the remainder of what was supposed to be his breakout season. Finley was initially informed he’d miss two-to-six weeks, but ended up missing most of the Packers’ [intlink id=”1425″ type=”category”]Super Bowl XLV[/intlink] run.
“I was heartbroken. I was mad as hell,” said Finley, who had been on an early pace for a monster 2010 season with 21 catches for 301 yards and one touchdown after four games. “But at the same time you’ve got to control what you can control. And the only thing I could control after that was how I was going to get better and come back stronger, faster and smart as ever.”
Finley’s anger, and his old immaturity, came out publicly when he complained on Twitter about injured players not being included in the team’s Super Bowl photo. The team rectified the situation, but that doesn’t replace the chance to play in the Super Bowl.
In addition to playing on the big stage, Finley has been given a little motivation by the Packers. The team selected two tight ends in the 2011 NFL Draft — Arkansas’ [intlink id=”1624″ type=”category”]D.J. Williams[/intlink] in the fifth round and North Carolina’s [intlink id=”1629″ type=”category”]Ryan Taylor[/intlink] in the seventh.
Taylor has a slim chance to stick with the team unless he becomes a special teams demon, but he and Williams join a group that already includes holdovers [intlink id=”1036″ type=”category”]Andrew Quarless[/intlink], [intlink id=”1236″ type=”category”]Tom Crabtree[/intlink] and [intlink id=”700″ type=”category”]Spencer Havner[/intlink], who like Finley, finished the season on injured reserve.
If he’s healthy, Finley won’t be challenged for the No. 1 spot, but the Packers sent two messages to the fourth-year pro during the draft.
1. Work hard, get healthy, live up to your potential and stay healthy.
2. We won’t be held hostage by your contract demands.
Let’s face it.
If Finley, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, plays all season at full strength, he’s going to have a monster year.
He’s also going to ask for a monster contract.
As nice as it is to think Finley’s main motivation is playing in the Super Bowl or that he’ll play harder because there are younger guys eying his job, this is really about money.
It’s hard to see the Packers not rewarding Finley with a contract extension if he picks up where he left off last season, but at least they’ve protected themselves if his demands are outlandish.
When you put all the factors together, Jermichael Finley should have absolutely no shortage of motivation in 2011.
And there will be no shortage of sky-high expectations from the rest of us.