BIRDLAND – Brian Finneran’s story could be made into one of those ESPN/Lifetime movies when he retires.
The only problem is he’s not done yet.
While the Falcons have informed Finneran that they don’t plan to re-sign him, he wants to test the to market when the labor situation is settled.
Most of y’all know his story, but here’s the brief recap. After starring at Villanova, he went undrafted. He bounced around the league before sticking with the Falcons in 2000. He started all 16 games in 2002. But his career was side-tracked in 2006 by a knee injury.
While rehabbing, the cadaver ligament that was used in the surgery gave way, additional surgery was required and he had to miss the 2007 season, too.
Most players have a tough time battling back from one knee injury, but to keep battling back over two seasons from two surgeries was remarkable and quite frankly, inspiring to witness.
Finneran made it back and played three more seasons. He even played on special teams when asked. (Just go back and watch the film of him jacking up a few Tampa Bay Bucs on Eric Weems’ 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last season.)
When the labor dust settles, Finneran is hoping to continue his career. He’s working out with the Falcons during their players-only workouts. He chatted with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently about his days with the Falcons and his plan to continue playing.
Q: Do you plan to continue playing?
A: Well, I have to wait for this lockout to get over with so they can get everything in order and figure out what they can do with the free agents like myself.
Q: Did you talk to any teams before the lockout?
A: A few. Hopefully, (when the lockout is over) I can start talking to some different teams and see what happens. See if there is anybody interested and take it from there. I just want to give myself an opportunity once it presents itself. I want to be ready to go if something does pop up.
Q: What was you conversation with the Falcons like?
A: They said they wanted to give some of the younger guys some opportunities to come up and make some plays. It will be interesting to see what they do, especially with the arsenal that they have now and if they have to make any more moves with the personnel at receiver position because they are pretty stacked right know. There is a lot of money wrapped up in it, I would imagine. But they were very nice.
Q: How so?
A: I had a good conversation with coach [Mike] Smith and [general manager] Thomas [Dimitroff]. We kind of patted each other on the back for about 10 minutes and said our thank yous and goodbyes. They did it very nice.
I’ve heard stories. Chris Mohr, our old punter, told me that he found out when some local radio guy called him after all the years he was with Buffalo. The radio guy said, ‘How do you feel about the move they made today?’ Mohr said, ‘What?’ The radio guy said, ‘Yeah, they just let you go.’
So it wasn’t like that. It was a situation where they weren’t going to sign me for another season. But I had a great run and I’ll be a Falcon forever.
Q: Are you fortunate to be able to still work out with the Falcons?
A: I’m just running routes and trying to stay in shape. I take a backseat in the seven-on-seven drills they are doing, but if one of their receivers gets tired or needs a break, I’ll jump in. I know the plays, I know the calls and I know the routes. I can run a few routes. If we run 30 plays, I might be in for 10. Again, for me, it’s just exercise and staying in a groove.
Q: What are some of your options? Where are some of your contacts around the league?
A: The guys up in Minnesota. Hue Jackson in Oakland. Ed Donatell in San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh was a quarterback down in Florida working out before the combine, but I didn’t get invited to that. He was one of the quarterbacks and I was one of the receivers. That was a long time ago. I was fresh out of college. We had a good relationship.
Then you can talk about Matt Schaub in Houston. Bill Musgrave in Minnesota with coach George Stewart. Joe D [DeCamillis) in Dallas. I’ve got some phone calls to make.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog