In Week Seven of the 2013 football season, the Green Bay Packers played a home gama against the Cleveland Browns. Jermichael Finley scored a highlight-reel touchdown early in that game, but left on a stretcher after suffering a neck injury late in the game.
Finley has not played a down of football since that date, instead undergoing surgery to fuse the C3 and C4 vertebrae in his neck and working diligently on his own to return to the sport he loves. And despite being cleared by his personal doctor to return, no team's medical staff has cleared him, leaving him a free agent still in search of a team.
Just in case you were wondering what Finley's main goal is, it's not just to return to football; it is to specifically return to Green Bay.
Courtesy of Jason Wilde from ESPN Wisconsin, we have this confirmation that Finley is dedicated to being a Packer again for the 2014 season:
More from @JermichaelF88: "Tell everybody I'm working as hard as I can to get back to Packer Nation."— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) July 9, 2014
We hear you, Jermichael, and we hope for your continued recovery and that it will eventually mean a return to the Green and Gold.
As has been discussed ad nauseum, neck injuries have become a frequent issue for Packers players. Even ones who do return, like safety Sean Richardson (who had his C5 and C6 vertebrae fused) take a long time to do so - Richardson suffered his injury on November 25, 2012 and it took him a year (364 days to be exact) before he saw game action again. Nick Collins, whose surgery fused the same vertebrae as Finley's, never returned.
As for the current state of the Packers, having Finley's veteran presence back in the fold would likely be a benefit. As you'll see in our breakdown of the position tomorrow, there is much youth at the tight end position, and Finley's experience and chemistry with Aaron Rodgers could certainly prove valuable if he's in playing shape.
As always, the Packers and their doctors remain cautious. One person who is not is Finley himself. Time will tell if his constant efforts lead him back to Green Bay, but there is no question that his drive and desire to return to football -- no, to the Packers in particular -- remains as strong as ever.