Q&A: Finneran will always be a Falcon

Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran puts a move on Carolina cornerback C.J. Wilson, picking up first down yardage with Panthers head coach John Fox looking on during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran puts a move on Carolina cornerback C.J. Wilson, picking up first down yardage with Panthers head coach John Fox looking on during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

BIRDLANDBrian 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.

Brian Finneran in 2004.  (Photo credit: NFL/SpinPhotos Inc.)

Brian Finneran in 2004. (Photo credit: NFL/SpinPhotos Inc.)

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.

FINNERAN TOUCHDOWN--Atlanta Falcons wide receiver jumps for a touchdown catch in the end zone over Buccaneers cornerback Ronyell Whitaker for a 17-7 lead with the p.a.t. during 2nd quarter action in Tampa on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2003. The Falcons, despite faltering late in the game, beat the Bucs 30-28. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

FINNERAN TOUCHDOWN--Atlanta Falcons wide receiver jumps for a touchdown catch in the end zone over Buccaneers cornerback Ronyell Whitaker for a 17-7 lead with the p.a.t. during 2nd quarter action in Tampa on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2003. The Falcons, despite faltering late in the game, beat the Bucs 30-28. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

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.

In 2007, Brian and Erin Finneran and Ellen and Brian Kozlowski at the Nov. 10 Fairway Affair gala, benefiting Jaden's Ladder.  He was always active in the community. Photo credit: Dexter Sharper

In 2007, Brian and Erin Finneran and Ellen and Brian Kozlowski at the Nov. 10 Fairway Affair gala, benefiting Jaden's Ladder. He was always active in the community. Photo credit: Dexter Sharper

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?

AT HOME WITH BRIAN FINNERAN -- Atlanta Falcons receiver Brian Finneran, the 'unofficial nanny' to neighborhood kids, gathers a crowd while playing basketball in his neighbor's driveway on Thursday, July 3, 2003. The children include his own and several from the neighborhood. His neighbor Lisa Cioffi, where they are playing, said 'He's my nanny. They want him as a tax write off this year', refering to her 6-year-old son Nicolas, who spends most of his play time next door with the Finnerans and their children. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

AT HOME WITH BRIAN FINNERAN -- Atlanta Falcons receiver Brian Finneran, the 'unofficial nanny' to neighborhood kids, gathers a crowd while playing basketball in his neighbor's driveway on Thursday, July 3, 2003. The children include his own and several from the neighborhood. His neighbor Lisa Cioffi, where they are playing, said 'He's my nanny. They want him as a tax write off this year', refering to her 6-year-old son Nicolas, who spends most of his play time next door with the Finnerans and their children. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

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

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

57 comments Add your comment

Falcons Chic

May 27th, 2011
5:21 am

Wow! If he doesn’t sign on to play this year, how would he feel about coaching — preferably in red & black!

TomK

May 27th, 2011
5:25 am

Woohoo, First! Gritty, tough competitor, Go Finn!

TomK

May 27th, 2011
5:28 am

Oops, not First! Still, Go Finn!

#1 falcons fan

May 27th, 2011
5:51 am

good luck to you Finn! we appreciate your effort here in atlanta!

Felix

May 27th, 2011
6:05 am

You was my favorite player. Like, kurt warner, you came from Europe football up the ranks, fought off all injuries, but time takes it toll. thanks for the memories. Best to you Man

FrankT

May 27th, 2011
6:34 am

He is a class act! Reps all the good in sports! I will miss him! Hope his carear continues.Best to you Brian

Remarkable

May 27th, 2011
7:26 am

We’ll miss his toughness on offence. Wish we could kep him.

Runnin With The Dawgs

May 27th, 2011
7:29 am

Finn”s a winner. He’ll be successful in whatever he does after the NFL. GO FALCONS!

Jimmy Crack

May 27th, 2011
7:30 am

Big Finn fan. He will hook up with someone and besides he has plenty of options after playing with coaching, radio, TV and local endorsements. I hope he stays in the Atlanta area.

Good luck Finn!

i saw brent grimes

May 27th, 2011
7:51 am

you were the consumate professional finn. thanks for the years!

Mikefalcon63

May 27th, 2011
8:15 am

Always liked Finn… A class act. I still remember a Bucs game when he totally knocked their saftey (Drawing a blank on his name, but he finished his career with the Broncos) out of the game with an amazing block. Would love to see him back here as a coach.

KevinM

May 27th, 2011
8:19 am

Talk about a class act! He and the Falcons are showing the professional side of the way things are in the NFL.
Good luck to you Finn and all your future opportunities. I am sure there is a NFL team (Carolina?) that could use a veteran to help grow a QB.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 27th, 2011
8:20 am

Falcons Chic — I know he did some radio work when he was injured. I don’t know about his coaching aspirations.

Professor — You meant “that would be fine” — Not “find.” Thanks for dropping by.

McNasty

May 27th, 2011
8:28 am

Dled, How is the reciever draft pick from last year doing with the injury? Is he out there? Who’s working at what position on the OL?

robert

May 27th, 2011
8:28 am

finn will be missed on and off the field. and dont forget he played some db in prevent situations too. good luck man. i really see the vikings as a landing spot. i hope mieir can jump right into his spot and contribute right away.

robert

May 27th, 2011
8:30 am

@Mikefalcon63 are you talking about all pro safety john lynch

where are the true fans

May 27th, 2011
8:33 am

Good player, great hands, a sure first down with him in the game, I’m sure that there will be plenty of teams who what that. So I say good luck to you and I hope you have a wonderful future>

PMC

May 27th, 2011
8:39 am

At this point, B Finn is a graduate and treasured alumni. I just hope we don’t have to ask him for money to pay the office staff.

coleski

May 27th, 2011
8:47 am

A real good hard nosed player. Thank you for your great effort. We’ll miss you.

dean

May 27th, 2011
8:48 am

Without “knowing” Finneran, I always had the feeling that when the Falcons really needed a first down, he’d be telling the qb, “Just get it close to me.”

dr3dd1ne

May 27th, 2011
8:53 am

Thanks for all your years of hard work and great play. You exemplify what it means to be a Falcon even when that was a rare commodity sometimes. You blocked, you got open, and you made plays. We loved watching you play. Hope the future holds nothing but the best for you and your family. Hope to see you at some level in the organization when your playing days are done.

#10Fan4Life

May 27th, 2011
8:57 am

The 86 jersey will be a collectors item one day! Thanks for the tough catches!

Well...

May 27th, 2011
9:00 am

I do know Finn and although he is not the fastest, strongest, etc, all he does is work hard at everything he does which is a good lesson to everyone – young and old. He’s a great son, husband, father and friend. Hope you stick around the ATL…

Dawglasville

May 27th, 2011
9:20 am

Great article D Led. Fans assume the worst about a guy when he is not making plays for their team. I appreciate his courage and his toughness. I believe he gave the Falcons and us fans his best. It was good to see that in print as well. I would love to see him making big plays, except against the Birds. Thanks and good luck Finn.

Falcfan

May 27th, 2011
9:47 am

Finn’s a class act…he will be missed, but sounds like the Falcons were professional about it….you never know, we may see him again….but best of luck to him!!

D man

May 27th, 2011
10:10 am

Finn has great hands. I don’t think we used him enough.

hiramsaint

May 27th, 2011
10:23 am

hopefully , he can live it down

dLed is my spell checker

May 27th, 2011
10:43 am

Class act. Falcons should find a way to retain him if he doesn’t hook on elsewhere.

Gritz Blitz

May 27th, 2011
10:49 am

Brian Finneran was a model Falcon. He represents what every player should strive to be. I have the highest respect and gratitude for all his contributions to this team. If he does land elsewhere next season, you can rest assured he will not be flapping his arms in an attempt to mock us, as that jerk Keith Brooking did. Finn, thank you and Falconland wishes you nothing but the very best.

Finn Fan

May 27th, 2011
11:18 am

Every game when he ran out of the tunnel to warm up he would wave to the fans at section 123 .. Almost every game he would stop and say hello and thanks .. Not only was he a great player .. he was great to his fans .. You could tell by looking at him he appreciated the ” have a good game ” and other banter he would get.. Thanks for everything Finn. My number 86 jersey will now go with the football you signed for me .. Thank you

Stevie B

May 27th, 2011
11:30 am

Hate to see you go Finn. You are class act. Best wishes to you.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 27th, 2011
11:33 am

McNasty — Meier is not out there. Don’t think he’s been cleared. It takes a full year for that knee to respond. Hawley, Garrett and Mike Johnson are OL regulars. Along
with Rob Bruggeman.

Falcon Red

May 27th, 2011
11:42 am

Man, Finn was the best! What a classy guy!! I wish you well, Finn, wherever you end up!

falconfan 2986

May 27th, 2011
12:00 pm

Finn, you are a class act, and will miss seeing you run out the tunnel on Sundays. Good luck to you and the family.

OldeFan

May 27th, 2011
12:35 pm

I hope TPTB will change their minds and keep Finn. He’s an outstanding Special Teams player and a reliable receiver and seems to be, from all accounts, a very good person whom everyone likes. We need folks like that in locker rooms to keep younger players from becoming entitled thugs. I will miss him. Thanks Finn for all you’ve accomplished; fans will miss you.

FinnFan86

May 27th, 2011
12:53 pm

Bryan is one of the few pro athletes I am happy for my kids to look up to. He is a professional in all aspects of the word. I’ve watched him leave games, late at night, tired, his family waiting, yet he would take time to sign every fans memorabilia, chat, and make them feel like he knows that they (the fans) are why he was out there every week, no matter how long it took. Other guys would pass through without even stopping. We will miss seeing 86 on the field.

Retire #86

May 27th, 2011
1:17 pm

Finn’s career is not over yet. As reported by the AJC he is working out at the Falcons player practices and there will be teams who will want the intangibles he brings to a locker room as a proven veteran. Have you check out his posts on sportsbuzz?

Nachogoatcheese

May 28th, 2011
5:49 am

I own 2 Falcons jerseys, Finneran’s and Crumpler’s.

Scott Anderson

May 28th, 2011
8:34 am

This guy has guts and can only be described as the type of player you want in the lockeroom. What guts he has had going over the middle time and time again. I am amazed of his recuperation ability coming back as he has. Great person and as a Falcons fan very sad to see him go. Hope he stays with the Falcons as a coach in the future. You don’t let this type of person get out of the organization.
Nice job Brian F !!!!!!!!!!!

Tommy Maddox

May 28th, 2011
1:29 pm

Thank you Brian. Thank you.

Joel

May 28th, 2011
4:19 pm

Brian Finneran is all heart! He played the game the way it was meant to be played and it’s obvious that his character extends far beyond the field! The kind of guy you could enjoy sitting down and having a beer with. Humble in game where humility is hard to find…

SeenThisB4

May 28th, 2011
4:33 pm

Good luck Finn, you were a worthy opponent.

mothers concerned

May 28th, 2011
7:05 pm

Please keep him I love this guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DR. FALCON

May 29th, 2011
12:03 am

IT’S A COLD BUSINESS. FINN HAS BEEN HURT THE PAST FEW YEARS, PLUS HE IS OLDER. GOOD LUCK ON THE REST OF YOUR LIFE FINN! UNLIKE MANY ATHLETES, YOU SEEM TO BE A WEL ADJUSTED PERSON WHO WILL MAKE THAT TRANSITION AFTER FOOTBALL.

Joey M

May 29th, 2011
2:41 am

Finneran will always be a Falcon. Side note. Patrick Kerney didn’t play last year. I don’t know if this was due to injury or if he’s just old. If he’s got something left, he would be great opposite John Abraham on certain pass rush plays. Is he an option to come back?

Old Violin

May 29th, 2011
10:40 am

After saying all those bad things about “fat cats and Thugs” in the NFL, let me quickly say ! The “Finn” doesn’t fit into that catagory! I’ve had some Falcon favorites over the years, but he has to be right at the top with any of them. I understand the Falcons wanted to go with youth, but I’d sure hate to know I was losing that kind of talent. I wish “Finn” the best of luck and will always admire the way he went about his business on and off the field in Atlanta ! And Yes, he will always be a Falcon to me…….Good Luck Finn, and God Bless you and your family!

Dawgdad (the Original)

May 29th, 2011
11:26 am

Falcons will wish they had him several times in the upcoming season, but foresight is not a Falcon tradition.

sknfan

May 29th, 2011
11:41 am

Falcons didn’t use Finnn as much as they should have. Will really miss him.

In The Know

May 29th, 2011
11:50 am

I have always been impressed with desire. In order to come back from injuries, you have to have it and Brian does. His frame and height make a “big” target for a defensive back and it takes guts to go up for a ball knowing you may come down on your head.
I wish Brian and his family the very best. At this writing, not one single detractor, instead all recognizing character and class. A very unusual blog.
Best of luck, and I hope you stay in Atlanta in some capacity or some future job.

Tia

May 29th, 2011
12:01 pm

I agree with most. Would love to see Finneran come back to Atlanta’s organization in some capacity. He will be missed but hopefully not for long. Considering his fight back to play after injuries—-conditioning coach maybe?