Jermichael Finley says he’ll be back and can’t wait to experience the thrill of another Lambeau Leap.
That’s what Finley told Sports Illustrated in a first-person account of his fateful and frightening catch against Cleveland on Oct. 20, which left him with a bruised spinal cord and uncertain future in football.
“Of course I plan to play football again,” Finley said. “This is what I love to do. I love the game. I love Sundays. Based on the feedback I’ve received from doctors at this point, the question is not if I’ll play again, but when. There is no better feeling in the world than making the “Lambeau Leap” into the stands, and I fully intend on having that surreal feeling again soon. I will do everything in my power to rehab and get back to the player I have been, and improve into the player I know I can be.”
Finley recounted the hit and its immediate aftermath. He said he saw Browns safety Tashaun Gipson coming out of the corner of his eye. He lowered his shoulders to protect his knees.
“After I got hit ... my eyes were wide open,” Finley said. “I was very conscious, but I could not move. I looked my teammate Andrew Quarless directly in the eye and whispered, ‘Help me, Q. I can’t move; I can’t breathe.’ The scariest moment was seeing the fear in Q’s eyes. I knew something was wrong, but his reaction verified it. That really shook me up.”
Finley said he had feeling in his legs but couldn’t move them. He tried to give a thumbs-up to the fans but couldn’t raise his arm far enough.
A CT scan on Sunday night showed Finley didn’t suffer a broken neck, which was a tremendous relief, and immediate surgery wasn’t necessary. The next day, he was able to stand and shower. Since then, he said his motor skills, coordination and balance are “back to normal.”
For now, Finley said he’s resting and healing. Once the bruise has subsided, Finley said he will visit some specialists to determine what’s next.
“Do I have fear? Of course I do,” he said. “It’s impossible not to have fear given what I’ve gone through over the past four weeks. I’ve worked my entire life to do what I do on that football field, and it’s a very scary feeling being taken off the field on a stretcher. No matter what’s said about drops or any off-the-field stuff, the one thing no one can question about me is how hard I work to be a great football player. I want this. I need this. It’s everything to me. It’s a scary thought knowing I could have left that field on Sunday never being able to strap up my helmet again, let alone walk.”
Noting his sometimes-rocky career in Green Bay, Finley thanked the organization and fans for their support.
“It means more to me than I could ever explain.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.