Finley floored by family reaction to football

AP

Jermichael Finley doesn’t have to watch “League of Denial” to have second thoughts about his profession, and what it means to his family.

The Packers tight end was stopped in his tracks when he got home from a game against the Bengals earlier this year, in which he suffered a concussion.

His 5-year-old son Kaydon had written him a note which said: “I’m glad you got off the field. Because that hit looked nasty.”

The next night, as he was putting Kaydon to bed, the message became even clearer.

“He said, ‘Daddy, I want you to stop playing football,’” Finley told Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com. “It was one of those things where you’re like, ‘That’s crazy that a 5-year-old would say that.’ The violence, the intensity of the game …

“I get calls from my grandma all the time. I tell her I only want to play 8 to 10 more years, and she says, ‘Boy, you need to quit this dang game.’

“That’s the thing. I know the risks. But family members that care about you, they see it from a different perspective than we do.”

That’s part of the reason Finley doesn’t let his son play football, and wonders if he’ll ever feel comfortable.

“All the side things that come with being a professional athlete, not just a football player, but a professional athlete, period – you’ve got people worshipping you, the money, the fame – are great. And, I really do love the game,” Finley said. “But with him, . . . I don’t know about football. And, he doesn’t know about football – and that’s the good part.

“Right now we’ve got him in soccer, tennis, and he plays flag football at the YMCA. And that might be as far as he’ll go. The thing is, where is it going to go next in the next 10 years, when he is playing at a higher level and he’s going to really strike people? I don’t think my son will play. He’s really intelligent; he knows when I’m hurt. He doesn’t forget anything.”

The 26-year-old Finley will have more decisions to make in the future. He’s going to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, after banking $8.25 million this year to play a game he wonders about. That’s the trade-off for many players, who have to balance the financial security for their families with their own, making decisions the 5-year-olds can’t for themselves.

22 responses to “Finley floored by family reaction to football

  1. In light of what Finley divulged – if he does play – the team that drafts up the contract better craft the language in such a way as to minimize the risk to the team if Finley hangs up the cleats.

  2. Having a 12-yr-old son who is a budding football star, this is very sobering.

    I wouldn’t blame Finley (and I’m a Packer fan) or any player who walked away because of this. And $8.25M (plus whatever he has made previous to this year) is not a bad sum to walk away with. My family could live for a long time on that amount.

  3. Why would you quit?? Just keep playing while knowing the risks and enjoy all the money and benefits, and then after you retire, file a lawsuit and parade around your injuries and struggles and try to extort even more money.

    Signed,

    All the plaintiffs in the concussion lawsuits

  4. Watched a story on “7 on 7” psuedo football a few nights ago. This is the future of football – little equipment, little contact, faster, as athletic – more like a streetball version of football.

    Already with the protection of the QB, recievers we are headed there – witness the recent Denver/Dallas game. No one wants to return to the 6-3 games of the NFL of the late 60’s – may as well watch soccer.

    Yes, I will miss it. Already miss the guts and the glory of the old NFL – Concrete Chuck, Butkus et al

  5. No surprise here. It’s almost a guarantee you will suffer some sort of catastrophic injury during the course of a football career. The players know the risks and have to decide if it’s worth millions of dollars and family security. I would say it’s worth the risks but I’m not a player and haven’t experienced the brutal impact of the game.

  6. Finley is a gifted athlete, I enjoy watching him play, I even stop myself from getting irritated when he does that little airplane rudder dance after making a first down when the team is in a hurry up offense.

    I wouldn’t blame him, Rodgers, Claymaker, or anybody else if they chose to walk away from this game with 8 or 10 prime football years left. Even as popular is the NFL is, anybody can see it’s a dying game. Bring back the leather helmets, soften the shoulder pads, you’ll see the game become great again, and head injuries disappear.

  7. This is why the NFL tried to hide the truth about concussions for so long. If things like this are happening in current NFL players’ homes, imagine the conversations between young boys’ parents as they debate what sports Junior is going to be allowed to play.

  8. We’re going to start hearing this more and more and more. League of Denial is going to change football, from the NFL all the way down to pee-wee leagues.

  9. As more and more parents stear their kids away from football, other sports will benefit from the thousands of athletes with world class ability and train them properly from an early age. The US Men’s National Team in soccer needs better athletes, baseball would definitely benefit as would hockey, basketball, tennis, etc.

  10. He has more money RIGHT NOW than he would probably ever see working in any other profession.

    There’s no shame in hanging up the cleats now to have a safe and happy future with his family.

  11. Does Finely really think he’ll be around another “10-12 years”? Talk about wishful thinking…that’s just not reality for the majority of players.

    As far as his son playing football? HE’S FIVE YEARS OLD!!!! What good can come out of a kindergartner playing tackle football? The risks far outweigh the benefits & football is not a sport that necessitates kids playing upon exiting the womb like baseball & basketball. I’m glad his kid is playing flag football….but why even entertain tackle at the age of five?

  12. This is it, right here. This is powerful stuff. For the fathers out there you know what I am talking about. When a child asks you a question like that you can see the innocence in their eyes and you know they won’t understand the answer. As a father one of the worst feelings ever is when you let your child down.

    For Finley (and other players), it has to be tough because that next hit could be the one. The neanderthals out there will say things like, “rub some dirt on it and get back up” and the other side will say, “we have to protect the game and the players” but in the end it really does come down to the fact that players know the risk and they still choose to play.

  13. Packers on decline? This coming from a fan of a pathetic team that has only a win from a winless Pitt., precious.

  14. Finley is much more mature this year, but still occasionally talking for the sake of talking. He should ask his family if they want to live on what he would make outside of football.

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