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Jermichael Finley: “Last year I took some plays off”

August 5, 2010

The Best?

In a candid interview with Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks, Jermichael Finley revealed a surprising self-assessment of his play last season.

“It’s about taking advantage of every play,” Finley said. “Last year I took some plays off every once in a while. People on the outside probably couldn’t tell, but for myself, I know I took some plays off that I could have taken advantage of. It’s being young. But I’ve matured a lot over these months we’ve been off.”

The 23-year-old out of the University of Texas has been characterized as immature in the past but has traveled a long way this offseason to shed that label. In May, Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel documented a meeting Finley assembled with head coach Mike McCarthy, general manager Ted Thompson, vice president of football administration Russ Ball, director of player development Rob Davis and tight ends coach Ben McAdoo. Finley used the opportunity to explain his growth as a person and a football player.

“I laid everything on the table,” Finley said. “I did it so they can know I want to be a leader coming into 2010 and a Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion – I want all of that. I want to be the guy they know can make that happen.”

The coaching and front office staff were pleased with Finley’s drive and initiative, but told him, “there’s got to be action. That’s what you will be judged off, not your words.”

Finley has shown a lot of growth and maturity over the past two seasons. He entered the league as a 21-year-old redshirted sophomore from the University of Texas who had only notched 17 starts into his belt. Many questioned his decision to leave school, and the NFL’s Advisory Board projected Finley as a fourth-round pick. Ted Thompson recognized Finley’s raw talent and swooped him up with the 91st pick in the third-round of the 2008 draft. Jermichael Finley has been proving his doubters wrong ever since.

Finley has all the right tools to become one of the best tight ends in the game, as evidenced in the playoff loss to Arizona last season, where he recorded a franchise playoff record with 159 receiving yards. The only thing standing in the way of Finley achieving his goals is himself. And by the sound of it, he seems to be approaching his toughest critic the same way he approaches those around him — with a confident honesty.

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