He sits in his locker all 6 feet 5 inches and 247 pounds of him staring down at his bare feet. This one Jermichael Finley says. The Green Bay Packers tight end points to the big toe on his right foot. He can bend it forward. He can't tilt it up. The first drive of this season linebacker Patrick Willis fell on Finley's heel his toes dorsiflexed and Finley said he tore ligaments. It still hurts too. Finley admits he's in a lot of pain. "I'm not one of the guys that will cry about it" he said. "It's a toe. They're going to have to do more than that to hold me down." Especially this season. For two months Finley coaches teammates have been raving about this new mind-set this treating every mundane drag route in practice with fourth-quarter urgency. He still has proving to do before cashing in on a contract year. But mentally Finley promises he is approaching the game with a totally different "mind-set." The term was repeated constantly though a 15-minute conversation Friday. So far there has been a long-dormant vigor to Finley's game. An energy. Exterior factors that contaminated his game before — contract status hesitation off the knee injury heckling fans — are ignored. This year for Finley is about a "mind-set." "I had to put everything into perspective and just say this is a short window" said the 26-year-old Finley. "We're not here for long. I'm just trying to do everything the right way." He's been here before. Two years ago two years younger he emphasizes Finley was in a contract year. And off a meniscus tear he often played tentatively. Into 2012 Finley continued to leave everyone in Wisconsin begging for more. Drops. A buttery September rendered Finley a decoy for a midseason stretch. Most of his peers wouldn't mind a two-year stretch of 1434 receiving yards on 116 receptions with 10 touchdowns. With this athleticism this talent it wasn't enough for him. So Finley built "a wall" that he says wards off all outside influences. First he's not concerned about his expiring contract about money. "The money the fame and all that it sounds awesome and great. But I have a lot of money right now and it's no change to my life" Finley said. "I can buy anything I want but besides that there's no change to how I love the game. I still love the game like I was 5 years old playing Pop Warner football. I try to go on the field and go back to my high school days where it's just pat and go and having fun. "It's all about seizing the moment and being a kid. This is a kid's game." Drops can make a kid's game a maddening one. This time last year one drop snowballed into another. And another. He had five in his first five games. Inside the stadium Finley heard the roaring boos "provocative and crazy things" he'd rather not repeat. It got nasty some of those trots into halftime. So this wall deflects criticism too. He doesn't want 2013 — which has begun with 11 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns — to torpedo into wild emotional highs and lows. The good the bad he's blocking it out. "One day they love you. One day they hate you" Finley said. "That's the mind-set I'm taking into this thing. If you do well they'll love you. If you drop a couple balls you're the worst thing since molded bread. It's the game within the game.
Packers' Finley is a dude with a new attitude
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Sep 22