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Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley does not believe the neck injury he sustained earlier this month will end his career.
Finley, in his first public comments since he was taken off Lambeau Field on a stretcher, authored a first-person account for Sports Illustrated's The MMQB of what he has been through since the Oct. 20 injury against the Cleveland Browns.
"Of course I plan to play football again," Finley wrote. "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."
Finley is scheduled to visit more medical experts this week before the Packers determine whether to place him on season-ending injured reserve, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder.
Finley, who spent four nights in an area hospital -- including one night in intensive care -- said his motor skills, coordination and balance are all back to normal. He confirmed that he sustained a spinal cord contusion -- a two-centimeter bruise that is expected to heal.
"I'm getting anxious sitting around all day, but I know my neck is healing," he wrote. "I am confident that I will be part of a new case study of players who returned to football successfully after suffering neck and head trauma. Just like we see every year with ACL recovery, anything is possible when you combine drive and commitment with a tremendous support system and team, and amazing advances in science and medicine."
Finley is in the second season of a two-year, $14 million contract. He wrote that he has a disability policy that would pay him $10 million tax free if his injury prevents him from playing in the NFL again. A source told Werder that it is likely among the largest policies in the league.
|Packers tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a spinal cord contusion on this hit by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson (left) on Oct. 20.|
"While money has absolutely nothing to do with my decision to play, I can sleep at night knowing that regardless of what happens, my family is financially secure forever -- maybe the biggest odds I'll ever overcome," Finley wrote. "Disability insurance is never a fun conversation, and writing those annual checks to protect myself is tough. But now, more than ever, I understand the importance of protecting yourself, protecting your family, and protecting your future earnings."
The injury occurred when Finley caught a short pass and took a hit from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, who was penalized for a helmet hit but not fined by the league. Packers tight end Andrew Quarless, who was the first player to reach Finley after the hit, said he shed a tear when he realized Finley could not move.
"I was very conscious, but I could not move," Finley wrote. "I looked at 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 wrote that he tried to lift his hand to give the crowd a thumbs-up but could barely move his arm.
"I kept asking the neurosurgeon, 'Will I walk again?'" Finley wrote. "His answer was a definitive, 'Yes, you are moving your legs right now.' Then I asked, 'Will I use my arms again? Will I play football again?' To those questions, I simply got, 'I cannot answer that yet.'"