Packer Update

Only Finley can stop Finley

Finley's blessed with incredible talent, but he needs to grow up

Jermichael Finley has the potential to be the finest receiver to play for the Green Bay Packers since Sterling Sharpe. Yes, the former Texas star is talented enough to surpass Robert Brooks, Mark Chmura, Antonio Freeman and Donald Driver – and he could do it before his 25th birthday. That said, there’s something about Finley that makes me feel about the young man the way a linebacker or a safety must feel when asked to cover him down the seam. He scares the heck out of me.

Finley lasted until the third round of the ‘08 draft for two reasons – a slower than expected 40 time at the NFL Combine and concerns about his character. And while he was able to appease some scouts by running faster times at his pro day, there was nothing he could do about the other problem. He could only prove that perception wrong by doing things the right way in the NFL. Well, it’s been two years and it’s safe to say – at least away from the field – that Finley hasn’t done things the right way. From arriving late to meetings and blaming his quarterback for incomplete passes as a rookie to missing numerous curfews last season – including one the night before the playoff game against Arizona – the father of three has conducted himself too much like a child since arriving in Green Bay.

None of this is to suggest that Finley is a bad person or even a bad teammate. In actuality, he appears to be a gregarious 23-year-old who’s just taking a little longer to grow up than his coaches would like. But maybe the maturity process is finally taking place. The following is from a story by Greg A. Bedard in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “In the past two months, Finley has sat in front of [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. To each of them, Finley has come clean about his missteps and professed his change in attitude.”

Sounds good. Assuming Finley does indeed change his ways off the field, there’s still one other thing that concerns me. Will he be able to keep his ego in check for the good of the team? The Packers have been blessed with incredibly unselfish receivers ever since Sharpe was forced to retire in 1994. Despite being selected to a combined seven Pro Bowls, consummate pros Brooks, Chmura, Freeman and Driver never demanded the ball during a game and rarely if ever complained afterward. That’s been the way in Green Bay ever since Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson started picking the players. Basically, it’s been NO DIVAS ALLOWED!

And while it’s too soon to call Finley a diva, he certainly has displayed many diva-ish traits over the past two years. Public cockiness, check. Blaming others for his shortcomings, check. Thinking he’s bigger than the team (i.e. arriving late to meetings and missing curfews), check. And now Finley has publicly stated his goals for the upcoming season. “I’m saying 100 balls and 1,300 yards,” he recently told Rob Reischel of the Journal Sentinel. “I’ve got a team goal and that’s win, win, win. But if I hit those numbers, that’s going to help us win for sure.” Hmmm. Yes, he talked about the team winning, but that came second. And while it’s probably unfair to criticize somebody due to the syntax of his sentences, we’d much rather have heard this from Finley: “I don’t care how many balls I catch, I know I’m going to get my chances, but bottom line is I want to win.” These words came from the mouth of perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

While there’s obviously a lot to like about Jermichael Finley, there’s also enough red flags to be concerned. It’s easy to use his age as an excuse, but the truth is, some players never grow up. And don’t you have to worry about a player who can’t – or more accurately won’t – follow the rules on the night before the biggest game of his life? And we haven’t even broached the subject of fame and fortune and how Finley will deal with those two things. Look, maybe he’ll be fine and someday I’ll look back on this post and laugh. But my gut tells me something else. Check back in a few years and we’ll see if I was prescient or just gassy.

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10 Comments to "Only Finley can stop Finley"

  1. jmac34 says:

    At this point I am more worried about him getting injured then I am about his attitude. He is still young so a little cockiness is alright, but if he still acting like this in a couple of years or does something a little more serious, then it is time to worry

  2. Lefty says:

    This sentence is dripping with irony:
    And while it’s probably unfair to criticize somebody due to the syntex of a sentence,…

  3. DaveK says:

    Read his tweets on twitter….it makes you wonder.

  4. Mark R says:

    I wonder how anyone can stay grounded with the kind of cash and adoration these players have to deal with. But I believe that he has surrounded himself resently with people of merit. Hopefully his trust isn’t in himself alone.

  5. stroh says:

    Only person that can stop Finley is Jermichael… LOL He’s a kid that is growing up. Not everyone is mature at age 22 like Fitzgerald is. Especially when he is talented and has been catered too all his life! I don’t have many concerns about his behavior. He got his dress down by many in the Packers organization from the Rodgers quote! And seems to have learned his lesson…

    I hadn’t heard his personal goals till this… and yeah, it would have been better to say team goals first, but many young players don’t understand that until they have matured and succeeded individually before “getting” the team goals are more important.

    As long as he has been forthright about his indiscretions w/ the Packers front office and is trying to change then I say cut him some slack! Don’t see the point of expecting him to fail it that quest… Expect him to become a better team player and more accounable and deal w/ any situation as it occurs!!! You seem to be expecting him to fail…

  6. Tangysizzl says:

    I for one wouldn’t change a single thing about the guy, otherwise we may not have him at all. I want him to have those high expectations of himself and while I could definitely do without the missed meetings and curfews and stuff, thats all part of his maturation process.

    Afterall, hes was a 21 yr old young man coming out of college and out of Texas no less a school not exactly know for its strict discipline with the football program.

    It is still an ongoing process with him, there no doubt about that.

    You forgot to mention probally his worst decision of all and its probally what sparked his come clean talk with all the big wigs around here.

    Sometime after the season Jermichael fired his agent Blake Baratz and rehired his first agent Major Adams who many believe was responsible for his fall in the draft. Hes a yes man and all he did for Finley was provide him a drinking buddy along with Vince Young. Adams had no offseason workout plan for Finley so he worked out on his own. How much we will never know.

    Somewhere along the line though it dawned on him that he needed to change his ways, surround himself with better people and start making better decisions. He started that when he fired Adams and rehired Baratz who was reluctant to take him back without some assurances he would change his old ways.

    I do believe he will change and I think him being honest with himself is the most important thing.

    As a side note I made a very bold prediction last year that Finley would have 1000 yrds receiving and 10 TDs. Of course he came up a bit short of that because he didn’t become the full time starter until at least week 4 possibly later and then missed 3 games with a knee injury, He still put up pretty damn good numbers and had he stared all 16 games I have no doubt he would have been real close to my prediction.

    When he says he wants to catch a 100 balls for 1300 yrds, I don’t doubt he can do it for one second but the offense has so many weapons it may not be possible.

    We shall see…

  7. Richard says:

    I agree with the article. Finley concerns me. I think he’ll have a hard time handling success and what goes with it. I’ve thought for a awhile now that he will turn out to be a problem at some point. Whether it’s a contract situation, off the field issues or whatever. He just has something about him that makes me pause. Incredible talent though.

  8. Archie says:

    I definitely agree with the article. I’m not saying he will be a problem but the potential is there, no doubt.

    One thing you have to give TT credit for, he knows how to draft guys who have to catch the ball for a living. In combination with his good fortune that McCarthy drafted Smith at San Fran and the rest of the NFL let Rodgers fall to GB late in RD1, Packer fans are about to revisit the era of Lynn Dickey, James Lofton, Paul Coffman and John Jefferson, not to mention Gerry Ellis and whoever else they had catching balls out of the backfield during that era. That team could score on anyone but the lack of a big time running game and a defense that was none too good made them an 8-8 team year after year. Let’s hope the Rodgers era turns out better but I have strong doubts about our LBs outside of Matthews. Chillar, Hawk, Barnett and Bishop are marginal starters on any other NFL team.

  9. Michael Rodney says:

    Here’s a quote from Finley’s own agent: “I’m not worried about what he does on the field. He’s virtually unguardable. I’m worried about him making the right choices, the right decisions, surrounding himself with the right people. Then it will all work out.”

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