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.