The following column is written by weekly Wednesday columnist John Rehor.
There is a given every NFL season.
Every season, it is an unwritten rule that Jermichael Finley will be associated with something controversial.
Whether it is because of his whoopsies trying to catch the ball, or making comments that he had no chemistry with Aaron Rodgers and everything in between, whenever Finley’s name is attached to something, it is a guarantee that it will explode with discussion. He is the ultimate lightning rod for conversation.
The 2012 season is a mere two weeks old and already Finley has been linked to controversy.
Finley’s agent, Blake Baratz, ignited a firestorm of conversation when he tweeted an observation about the reigning league MVP: “ARod is a great QB he isn’t a great leader. There’s a major difference. Leaders take the blame & make every1 better. He doesn’t.”
That’s a strong statement for anyone to make and an unwise one for a player’s agent to make. And Finley is caught in the middle.
The issue is not that this dig against Rodgers was said. The issue is that once again, Finley is linked to a controversial topic, and one has to wonder how much more the Packers will tolerate his name being in the headlines in a negative way.
If Finley was a perpetual All-Pro, catching everything that was thrown within a 50-mile radius of him, he might get a free pass for the things he says, as well as things his agent says. But after four-plus years, Finley is what he is: an ultra-talented, underperforming potential All-Pro who often says things he shouldn’t, who is always facing criticism, and will probably never meet the incredibly high expectations placed on him.
Am I suggesting the Packers get on the phone and start calling other teams in an effort to trade their gifted but enigmatic tight end tomorrow? No. But his two-year deal signed in the offseason at a relatively cheap price allows for a fairly quick exit if they choose to keep him. It is also a cheap contract for a trading partner to potentially take on if they choose to take that route.
As long as Finley is in Green Bay, he will continue to attract attention for what he does both on and off the field. While he can control his play and what he says, the Packers fan base is so fickle that the slightest fall off in play or slightest comment that may raise an eyebrow. and Finley would immediately go back to being the most hated player on the team. It is an unfair situation for him to be in, but he is responsible for much of the anger thrown in his direction.
For just one season, starting this week, I would like to see Finley shut up and just play football. Retire from Twitter once and for all, minimize his activity with the press, and just focus on the game. Don’t make comments, don’t do interviews, don’t tweet that it’s YOTTO yet again. Just focus on the game and become the very best player he can. Maybe then, everyone could judge him solely on his performance on the field, without any input from the periphery that surrounds him.
Telling his agent to shut up might be a good idea too.
John Rehor is a writer at Cheesehead TV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of Cheesehead Radio (blogtalkradio.com/cheeseheadradio). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.