Life After Finley All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Jermichael Finley
Have we seen the last of Finley in a Packers uniform?

Less than 48 hours removed from the sight of Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley being carted off the field, we continue to learn more.  More about the injury, about Finley and about what is facing the Packers in these next few weeks.

Before I continue, I preface this by saying that I am not trying to be insensitive to the situation and decisions that are facing Finley right now.  Any Packers fan need only think back two short years and to Nick Collins to remember how badly these types of situations can end.

I am one who, if it were me in Finley’s shoes, would probably stop playing.  I have to wonder what I would have said a year ago, but as a new father, my perspective has changed.

Just three weeks ago, Finley suffered a concussion and would have missed the next week’s game, were it not for the Packers bye week.  Afterward, Finley admitted that his own kids told him that they didn’t want him to play football anymore because of the dangers that come with repeated head injuries.

Finley’s latest injury has been described as a bruised spinal cord.  While we all get bumps and bruises from time to time, this is the backbone that we are talking about.  Even a bruise is a scary thought.  Every bruise needs to heal and while I’m not anything close to a doctor, it would seem that there has to be some chance that this injury may have long-term health implications for Finley.

He was reportedly doing fine as of earlier today and after he was released from intensive care at the hospital.  We also know that he did regain feeling in both his arms and legs.  He was walking around on his own, which is the best news for Finley, the man.

As far as Finley the football player, the Packers still have to go out and play on Sunday and for the remaining nine games after that.  They are going to be without #88 indefinitely.  It will be weeks before the team can even determine if Finley could come back and play, not to mention if he wants to return and play.  I personally would be surprised to see Finley back and with the team this year and at all, really.

Replacing Finley in this current offense is not possible with the current tight ends on the roster.  Andrew Quarless missed almost a season and a half recovering from his leg injury and has never emerged as any type of pass-catching threat.  So far this season, I have seen nothing to tell me that he will, either.  Recently promoted rookie Jake Stoneburner saw some action against the Cleveland Browns and the team has high hopes for him.  Still, he couldn’t crack the 53-man roster out of training camp and remained on the Packers practice squad for the first six weeks of the season.  My expectations are duly tempered.

The emergence of Green Bay’s run game will allow head coach Mike McCarthy a few more options in how to handle the loss of Finley on the field.  But they still need to account for a weapon removed from quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal.  This week, the Packers may still be without receiver James Jones when they face the Minnesota Vikings.  That means that besides Jordy Nelson, the Packers are down to Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, Brandon Bostick, Quarless and Stoneburner at receiver and tight end.

Jones should be back the week following, if not this week.  Assuming Finley ends up on season-ending injured reserve and before receiver Randall Cobb potentially returns in December, the Packers could look to add another pass catcher.  The typical route would be for general manager Ted Thompson to try and pluck someone from a practice squad around the league or even possibly off the street.

Another could be a trade.  This scenario is not as likely, based on Thompson’s history.   Is it worth whatever the Packers have to give up and the additional salary cap hit to bring in a big name?  In putting on my “Ted Thompson” hat, I’d have to say probably not because there is no apparent “missing link” out there that can drastically improve the Packers’ chances of having a successful season and more importantly, postseason.

It’s often easy to get caught up in the unexpected loss of a player who has been a big part of a football team.  Many times, the emotional and knee-jerk response is to look for an immediately replacement to that position.  Sign the biggest name or make a blockbuster trade and make everything OK again.  The problem is the ripple effect that can have on a team or organization.  Financial implications, the fit in the team’s game plan and team chemistry are just a few examples of factors that need to be considered before a move is made.

With the Bears dealing with major injuries of their own and the Lions having come down to earth a bit, Green Bay is sitting in the driver’s seat in the NFC North.  The Packers aren’t in a situation where they need to do something drastic, in other words.

In Finley’s case, he has certainly been a hotly debated topic of conversation.  What he brings to the Green Bay offense will be missed and as I said earlier, it cannot be replaced with any one player currently on the Packers’ roster.  Like they have done many times before when a player is lost, the Packers can likely create success in other ways with what they have.  They also know that they will likely get a few key pieces back along the way.  Thus begins life after Finley for Green Bay.



Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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  • joe

    Tony Gonzalez?

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      What do the Falcolns say about that?

      There are plenty of times where, if you dig into the reports, you would see that TT has at least been willing to talk about a trade. The problem is that even when TT finally convinces himself to try for a deal, it takes two teams plus a player (who often ahs a veto or needs to redo a contract) to make the deal work.

  • Big T

    Finley unfortunately is done with football… Give Ed West a call damnit..

  • Mike

    If TT made a trade for a TE I’d be more worried than anything else, not just for the Packers but also for J-Mike and our remaining TEs

  • BRinMilwaukee

    Without J-Mike, we do not have a quality TE. We need at least one, and that player is not presently in the Packers’ system. It’s time for TT to pretend he is Bill Belichick or Ron Wolf and do something OTHER than draft-and-develop. He needs to (gasp) trade or sign a free agent. It doesn’t have to be a world-beater… just someone better than we have now.

    • I agree. At some point with all the injuries, Jones out a few more weeks. Cobb out till December, AND no Finley, the Packers IMO would need to do something. Finley has a lot to do with how defenses play the Packers WITH Cobb, Jones, an Nelson. Now with Finley down, Cobb and Jones out the Packers are down to Nelson and Boykin and a bunch of practice squad players and a TE who blocks on running plays. All summer long I heard Quarless was faster than he was before the injury yet rarely saw a ball go his way or do anything other than run block. T.T. won’t do a thing though. He signed Harper and that’s about all we’ll see. Everybody is pointing towards the upcoming schedule and think the Pack will go 9-2 over the next few weeks. While I hope and wish that’s true, the Packers are going to struggle on offense I’m afraid. The fact is, this is nothing like 2010 when the had Jones, Nelson, Jennings, and Driver to turn to.

    • Stroh

      At this point in the season there aren’t quality player sitting around at home waiting for a call. So there aren’t better option in FA now. As for trading… Teams would now recognize that the Packers would need a good TE and would ask for way more than the player is worth. So a viable trade isn’t likely to be an option either w/o way overpaying. Fred Davis might be available, but he’s the most maddeningly inconsistent TE you can imagine! He just lost his job to a rookie for cryin out loud. He’s talented but he’ll break your heart far more than do anything impressive.

    • Brett Johnson

      Well, we do not have a quality tight end? I guess this depends, as Bill Clinton would say, “what the defintion of is, is”…J-Mike was not an All-Pro, nor a Pro Bowler…An above average tight end…yes…Replaceable…yes.
      It was a horrific injury, but, we have lost All-Pros in the past, such as Nick Collins, Sterling Sharp, and Willie Buchannon, all three who were All-Pros.
      We will servive as a team and maybe find a future star in either Stoneburner or Bostick. Stranger things have happened…
      My thoughts and prayers are with J-Mike.
      My sincere hope, whether he ever plays again or not, is that he has saved and invested his money wisely, and that he does not end-up like a multitude of players a few years or less after they have bee forced to retire because of severe injury, and that is filing for bankruptcy. I read that he is out four to six weeks. My guess is that this is it…He is done…Good fortune and future good health…

  • Stick around for what we put up tomorrow, there will be more on this.

  • Jeff

    The political correct fools of the world are taking aim on this game and I am sick of it , everyone wants everyone to stopo playing everytime their is an injury. I am sorry , but policemen , firemen ,contruction workers face danger every day and we dont want to shut them down. Life is full of risks , the politically correct fool s want to turn us into a coutry of whimps and they want to make the game soft so soft men and pretty fellows can play. Let Finley make is own choice and quit trying to make it for him.

    • Stroh

      Clearly Finley will make his own choice about playing again or not. We’re not pretending that he won’t… Right now lets just be happy he’s walking and wait for his and the Dr’s decisions.

  • Jeff

    Look at the next 5 games , at Minnesota , home to Bears and Eagles , at Giants , home to Viking. The Packers will be heavy favorites in every game , so their is no need to rush anyone back right now , Vikings can not score , we own the Bears , Eagles and Giants are bac. Packers will be 9-2 going to Detroit.

    • Brett Johnson

      Jeff, I hope you are correct…But, last I checked, we still “have to play the game”…I can remember too many games to count that I thought would be relatively easy, only to get ‘upset’…So, let’s not count our chickens. Minnesota looks very weak this year…Josh Freeman is at best, a back-up QB…However, I am certainly not overlooking the Bears, Eagles, and especially the Giants, who have kicked our butts in all the important games in recent years, save our Super Bowl winning season.
      Am looking forward to further development of our young WR’s (Boykin, White, etc.), TE’s Bostick and Stoneburner, LB’s Mulumba, Palmer, and Lattimore, and Chris Banjo at Safety…With all our injuries, this is where solid coaching and depth play a huge role…

      • Chad Toporski

        I think the general point is that these are all games we *should* be able to win, even with the injuries.

  • BURN1nWI

    I don’t think inquiring after Gonzalez would be knee-jerk, but it all depends what the Falcons are willing to take to part with him. Anything over a 5th round pick for a 1 year rental wouldn’t be worth it. How long would it take to get him in sync with the O?

    Personally, I’m okay with going with Quarless and the cast of thousands until the receivers heal. Unlike previous years, the D can hold up and the running game can help the passing game until the tide turns. Prayers to J-mike for a full recovery. Hopefully with a return to the field.

    • Tarynfor12

      The Falcons haven’t tossed the towel in just yet and any notion of them trading Gonzalez would be telling Matt Ryan to not waste his time.

      The next man up doesn’t only reside in Green Bay…the Falcons showed some of that last week even if against TB without White, Julio and other assorted MIAs just like the Packers.

  • Brian

    Time to integrate Franklin into the passing game similar to Cobb. He seems to have the athletic ability to catch and run, too.

    • Stroh

      Being able to catch and run at the same time would be a big improvement over Quarless. But I think Franklin is kinda in the doghouse till he shows he won’t put the ball on the ground again! 2 games in a row w/ a fumble will do that!

      • Ed Schoenfeld

        Agree with Stroh on keeping the ball, but it seems like last week they already had a few looks with Franklin in the slot. Quarless is a better receiver than people are giving him credit for; he stepped in for J-mike on 2010 and will do so again even if he doesn’t have the same athletic flair after the catch. I like the addition of Myles White and Chris Harper, most of the injured guys will come back, and the Packers will be fine. No need to spend future growth (draft picks) on overpriced stopgap FA help just yet.

  • Chad Lundberg

    I’m on board here. People mention Nick Collins all too often, and forget that this also happened to Jeremy Thompson. I think we have seen the last of Jermichael Finley not only for the green and gold but for the entire NFL.

    • Stroh

      Jeremy Thompson had spinal stenosis which made a life altering injury far more likely. We haven’t heard anything about that w/ Finley yet. If Finley has stenosis (a narrowing spinal column) he won’t be allowed to play again. But that hasn’t shown up yet.

      • Ed Schoenfeld

        Terrance Murphy also had his career ended with something like this, as did Tim Lewis a few more years ago.

        Point being it’s a life affecting medical decision and needs to be done in the proper time and with careful attention to all the possible outcomes.

        Wish J-Mike a happy, healthy life and hope he can come back to play if he wants to.

        • Stroh

          Correct on both Murphy and Lewis. Tho I believe Lewis’s injury was much more severe than Murphy’s. They both had stenosis tho.

  • There are a large variety of spinal cord bruise severity. Perhaps he can/will want to play again this year. Perhaps this is career ending.

    I’m glad he’s ok as a person first and foremost.

  • Dan

    If there is no stenosis, instability or soft tissue or nerve damage, he has a good chance of being cleared, at some point, to play again. I agree that it prob wont be this year and prob not with the Packers

  • The only thing I agree with is that if this injury makes Finley significantly more susceptible to injury in the future, I hope he decides to retire.

    I always assumed that GB would win the division. Thus, the fact that Detroit is coming to earth, the Bears have lots of injuries, and the Vikings stink is irrelevant. The only question is whether GB is good enough to beat SB contenders in the postseason with personnel.

    I would support giving a 6th or a 7th round pick for Gonzalez if TT thinks Gonzalez is a difference maker and Finley is unlikely to come back this year. IMO, the next 5 games being “soft” just means that Gonzalez could learn the system in lower pressure situations. I see no point to bringing in someone who is mediocre in a trade or FA (if someone decent exists is FA). Getting someone like Gonzalez would make it harder to extend contracts using this years cap money. I fear GB is a WR/TE and an o-lineman short of being a SB favorite, but there is enough D and enough offense if Rodgers is hot on any particular day.

  • * “current personnel”

  • Razer

    The injury to Finley is unfortunate. I think that he would have been gone by next year regardless of this event. His contract, cost and inconsistent play makes resigning him unlikely, even before this injury. The problem for the Packers is the remainder of the season.

    It is unlikely that TT will go after an old TE and since we have 4 on our roster, we seem to have some depth. Since we don’t typically use a lot of TE schemes, I don’t see the big issue. The injuries at WR presents the bigger problem since we were splitting Finley into WR mode. Others will have to step up.

    Look for the Packers to draft a TE, safety and WR in the first three rounds of next year’s draft.

  • tim

    I believe the Packers won their last superbowl with Finley on the shelf. If you recall, the went to a wr-oriented passing game, and more running the ball. Eric Walden/Fran Zombo were starting at lb. Pat Lee and Jarrett bush were logging significant minutes at db. All is not lost, they’ve been here before. Right now their running game is in great shape. Defense is playing well. Young guys are gaining valuable experience. And they keep winning! I think they’ll work with what they’ve got. Its done fine for them up until now. Just plug in a couple of new parts. I think they’ll find ways to include Franklin and the new tight ends as weapons, which they have the talent to be, and keep on rolling. Kudos to the coaching and management, and to Rodgers. He’s the key player.

  • jim

    the one thing that everybody is failing to take into consideration is the opinion of finley. he is a young athlete, with an ego that has offended some packerbackers at times. if it comes down to it being solely finley’s choice, my bet is that finley will play. whether that happens with the packers this year is up to the doctors and staff.

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      From Finley’s recent comments it seems like he could go either way on playing again, but I agree it will be his choice if medically cleared.

  • Archie

    Trade deadline is only a week away. Gonzalez makes the most sense and would be a win-win for team and player but ATL, who figures to get little from the trade, would be signaling that its season is lost, that’s not something NFL teams do prematurely. So I don’t see Gonzo coming to GB. GB may have to go on with what they have, which doesn’t seem like much. Ryan Taylor is no Tom Crabtree when it comes to catching the pig. Stoneburner seems error prone and short for a TE. Q is underwhelming. That leaves Bostick as the only unknown with potential to fill-in. TE Tyler Eifert would have been a logical R1 pick for GB but CINCY took him before we could. There is a rookie TE playing extremely well right now that went in R3 of the draft but TT chose to trade our R3 pick away. Given the uncertainty over Fin coming back last year, this year or next, it is surprising TT did not plan for this. Same story with Scott Wells and Cullen Jenkins. Seems simple, when you know chances are high you will be losing a star player in FA, go out and draft a successor. TT never does.

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      That third round pick TT traded away wound up being part of the deal that got us Bakhtiari. Let’s consider where the Packers would be with Newhouse at LT before we start crying about not getting a starting quality rookie TE in the draft. There are a couple of good rookie TEs who went undrafted, too. Maybe Bostick or Stoneburner will be another. Yes that’s pie in the sky, but its just as realistic as any other hope/speculation.

  • BradHTX

    “Seems simple, when you know chances are high you will be losing a star player in FA, go out and draft a successor. TT never does.”

    I know, drives me crazy! I mean, for 15 great years we had Brett Favre, and look at the dreck we’ve had to deal with since then: Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Matt Cassell.

    Wait… Wut?