The Broadway musical Rent asks a deeply philosophical question in its quintessential “Seasons of Love” song:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
With apologies to Jonathan Larson, I ask:
One thousand six hundred and twenty-eight days
How do you measure, measure a career?
It’s been 1,628 days since the Green Bay Packers have drafted tight end Jermichael Finley in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
And here’s what jumps to mind about Finley’s five-year career in Green Bay:
- His public criticism of a quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Finley’s rookie year in 2008 when he couldn’t corral a pass that was a little high. In the words of Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Coach Mike McCarthy – in so many words, Finley said – told him to ‘shut the hell up.’”
- Finley’s criticism of the Packers organization for initially deciding that players on injured reserve would not be included in the Super Bowl team photo.
- In the Packers’ only regular season loss of the 2011 season, Finley’s shark-fin first-down celebration as the Packers were losing.
- Finley’s 12 drops in 2011 that were twice that of any other NFL tight end, according to ProFootballFocus.com and his five drops so far in 2012 that are exceeded only by one other tight end.
- Finley’s 2012 offseason comments that he didn’t have “chemistry” with Aaron Rodgers last season and he just needs to “freestyle it” in 2012.
- Finley’s quad injury that forced him to miss the majority of training camp and his recent shoulder injury that forced him to miss most of the second half of the Colts game.
When asked if he could get the season to improve while playing through a shoulder injury, Finley replied, “I can. It takes two people to do that. And I need the quarterback on my side, and I need to catch the ball when he throws it to me. So it takes two things to get that going, the chemistry. I feel we need to get that going.”
Asked to assess that chemistry at this point, Finley deemed it “OK” before adding, “Not good enough at all. Something to be worked on, and try to work on it as much as I can, try to talk to him as much as I can, but like I said it takes two people.”
What Finley is doing here is passing the buck and painting himself as a victim. He’s intimating that he’s trying to work with and talk to Rodgers, but the quarterback isn’t being cooperative.
There’s every chance that Finley didn’t mean to place blame on Rodgers, and the tight end didn’t realize what he was saying. His track record would suggest and justify that. But ignorance is not an excuse. His comments are divisive, no matter what his intentions are.
Finley shouldn’t be criticized for the highly-publicized comments made by his agent, Blake Baratz, earlier in the season that suggested Rodgers isn’t a good leader. But the simple connection between agent, player and organization was enough to create an unwanted distraction.
Put simply, if Finley wasn’t a member of the Packers and Baratz still made the same comments, it wouldn’t have been an issue.
It’s time for the coaching staff to send a message to Finley and to the rest of the team, one made with actions and not words. It’s time for head coach Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator Tom Clements and tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot to significantly reduce Finley’s playing time.
It’s time for D.J. Williams and the rest of the Packers tight ends to play a bigger part in the Green Bay offense.
By doing so, they can give Finley one last chance. He can be quiet, play the role of good soldier and earn more playing time through solid play.
And if that doesn’t work, if that creates a locker room division, if Finley continues to be a cancer, then it’s time to part ways. Trade him and take whatever they can get in return.
Sure, there’s been a few memorable catches and touchdowns from Finley over the years. But those modest contributions are something Williams and company are capable of providing and perhaps exceed.