Veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan is getting another shot in the NFL. In his first session with the media as a member of the Saints, Finnegan embraced his longstanding league-wide image.
“When your reputation’s, ‘You’re a dirtbag,’ you like to think you can add some value in real life to the locker room,” Finnegan said regarding whether he takes pride in being a positive presence on the team. “You guys probably think that. You definitely want to do that for these young guys because it is bigger than the game of football. You want to teach them all the things you learned. You want to pay it forward because this game has given so much to you on the football field and off. Not everybody does it but I hope to be the one to do it.”
Asked whether he thinks the “dirtbag” persona is a misconception, Finnegan responded matter-of-factly.
“I don’t think it’s a misconception, it’s just a stated fact that people just think that and I just have to live with it,” he said. “It’s just part of who I am now so we’ll just take it. . . . I never fought it. Sometimes bugs just hit your windshield and you have to figure it out. After the incident [with Andre Johnson in Houston] it was just known that you were going to be the villain but you just have to work through that. Not everyone sees what you see off the football field. There are just some things you cannot lose sleep over. I have not lost any sleep yet so I am good.”
While Finnegan didn’t call it a misconception, he nevertheless regards the “dirtbag” narrative a misunderstanding.
“ That is just what it is,” he said. “When you see everything I have done in my career from the way I play with emotion and grit and kind of just old school, you kind of think that this guy is one way and then when you meet him it is the complete opposite. That is just kind of the way life is. Sometimes you receive a bad impression the first time and that just kind of sticks with you. You just try to change people’s opinions of you just by meeting them. That’s just something I’ve done. I have stayed out of the personal foul business for some years now. . . . I always thought I was just playing the game fairly but also playing with a little edge as well.”
Whether or not he still plays with edge, Finnegan will have to show that he can perform at a high level, or he’ll be gone from the team as quickly as Hakeem Nicks was.