Longtime Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura opened up about Jermichael Finley's status on Monday, indicating that the six-year veteran would have surgery this week and his career is very likely over.
Chmura, who played seven seasons with the team from 1993 to 1999, appeared on 540 ESPN Milwaukee and shared the details, via Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio:
I will give you a little snibbet [sic]. I got a chance to talk to Jermichael Finley before the game, and I would bet my bottom dollar his career’s over. Over. He needs surgery, and it’s herniated in [the C3 and C4 vertebrae]...I think it’s gonna be a Nick Collins deal. He’s definitely not gonna play in Green Bay, I’d put my house on that.
Neither the team nor Finley himself has given any indication on the veracity of Chmura's claims. Since Finley suffered his spinal contusion in the Packers' Week 7 contest against the Cleveland Browns, the 26-year-old tight end's status has been shrouded in mystery. He has missed each of Green Bay's past three games while undergoing nonsurgical treatment.
It was initially expected that Finley would not require surgery after an initial ICU stay, but Chmura made it clear his status is worse than expected.
"I believe he's undergoing surgery on Thursday," Chmura said. "He literally could not move his neck."
Finley's agent, Blake Baratz, declined to comment on his client's status when contacted by PFT. The best indicator out of Finley's camp came when the tight end declared he was "made for" the upcoming difficulties he'd face in his recovery:
If Anyone Is Made For All This It's Me! #Road2Recovery— Jermichael Finley (@JermichaelF88) November 12, 2013
The Packers unfortunately have a recent history dealing with similar spinal injuries.
Safety Nick Collins, who made three straight Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams from 2008 to 2010, suffered a similar injury in 2011 in a game against the Carolina Panthers. Though Collins attempted to make a return following his neck surgery, the Packers released him the following April due to health concerns. Collins' agent quietly indicated his client would retire that September at the age of 29.
Finley is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason. If his neck injury forces him to retire, the former Texas standout will finish with 223 receptions for 2,785 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Still, Finley could find hope in the recovery of Peyton Manning. As Bleacher Report injury expert Will Carroll noted, the location of Finley's neck injury differs from Manning, but not the procedure:
Per a report from @jrehor, Jermichael Finley is going to have a cervical fusion at C3/4. Bit higher than Manning's, but identical surgery.— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) November 11, 2013
Manning, of course, has not only gone on to continue playing football, but has also reached his former All-Pro levels, even at the age of 37.
Either way, if Chmura's claims are accurate, the road to recovery will be long and uncertain for one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets.