If the Green Bay Packers don't bring Jermichael Finley back because of his neck injury it will hurt the team more than it will Finley. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Green Bay Packers taking the high road with Jermichael Finley

The NFL, like society here in the USA, has two types when broken down. It’s like good versus evil many times when running a business, and while the Green Bay Packers are more than a business, there is a business side to them.

In drafting a player, the team has rights to play that person, so long as he is not in risky business to injure himself, or cause permanent major damage when playing.

As things have gone over the past year, Jermichael Finley is one of a handful the Green Bay Packers who have ended their careers with cervical spine injuries. Looking at what the risk factors are for those with this type of injury, the Packers can be proud as a team in taking the individual out of consideration rather than try to hold on to the talents, getting everything they can from those under such circumstances.

DYou can be certain that Jermichael Finley will be compensated if he doesn’t play again – in the range of $10 million. This is a small payback, no matter what the payout would be, to a man who had his dreams taken from him. Even for those starting football in high school, that can amount to a dozen years prepping for the pros, then having it taken all away in one play.

If anyone has ever had a cervical disc injury, this can be the most painful. Speaking from personal experience, this injury has proven to outrank all others for pain, discomfort and a crippling effect. Neurologists say that this type of pain can radiate so intense that thoughts of suicide can come into play. The closer to the brain, the more intense the pain.

Several herniations in the cervical area brought on from hits is equivalent to being hit in the neck with a metal object, or crashing into a windshield in a vehicle accident. Such injuries can leave permanent paralysis. In fact, multiple injuries make it common to the loss of feelings in the arms, neck, face and hands, no matter how things are treated.

Humankind does not have the capacity to cure such injuries, bringing the victim back to normal in most severe cases. This is the reason many understand why football teams now err the side of caution when players develop such injuries. Jermichael Finley is lucky to have been able to use his arms again, and to run.

To take another blow, especially considering how tight ends are demanded to run routes across the middle of the field where blind hits are most common, could result in accidental injuries, even if defenders are not out to punish the receiver. One spearing hit can for the retirement of a player having gone through such a hit as Finley. Jermichael can thank his lucky stars in being able to recover as far as he has.

A second injury not only xcould result in permanent loss of extremities, but other issues as well.

These injuries take a long time to heal. A second injury not only xcould result in permanent loss of extremities, but other issues as well. Because of the nature of a spinal injury, it takes longer to heal than most other injuries or post-surgeries.

Movements are made constantly in the spine that contribute to this slower recoup time-frame. The team’s option after viewing MRI X-rays, reports from doctors and even physical therapist is whether there is a high enough degree of certainty that re-injury could take place.

The Green Bay medical staff wants to keep things this way – to protect the person. When taking the player away from the game, the team takes the player out of play.

Too much risk cannot be tolerated.

Finley stays

Jermichael Finley against the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

In Finley’s case, the risk was greater than the team would like, so chances cannot be taken. It’s once again a tradition in Green Bay. The team has seemingly lost a great talent, though they still haven’t decided one way or the other to bring him back. They won’t re-sign him unless he’s been cleared medically. It’s for the best of the team and Finley.

They are allowing Finley a better chance to live comfortably, hopefully into his elderly years. Sustaining another neck injury would prove a disaster - paralyzed limbs or even sending him into a vegetative state.

In Finley’s case, unfortunately, his best interest is not to take the field again. We are sorry to see him go, especially under such dramatic circumstances, but we remain happy that he has recovered from such trauma enough to consider playing football again.

Getting clearance from his private doctor to play was most likely based on Jermichael’s desire to play again. Being cautious, the Packers prove once again to be noble in their cause. It will take more of a man to walk away from the game and to find another team willing to take a risk. Let’s hope he does not play with his health this way.

The best option for Jermichael would be not to risk further issues. This ordeal has taken all his effort, and he is lucky to walk away from the game of football as healthy as he is. The Packers are taking the greater loss for this.

We all will be glad to see Jermichael move on to a prosperous, happy life with his body in shape to sustain a long life, and a great future. Thanks for the great job, as a league leader, Mr. Finley. And hats off the the Green Bay Packers’ medical staff in making the decision to put the person ahead of the player.

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