Green Bay - GREEN BAY - As Jermichael Finley continues to recover from what the Packers called a “neck injury”, Packers nation is holding its collective breath. While everyone is hoping Finley recovers completely, a quick look back at Packers history with such injuries shows many end up being the final play of the player’s career.
Most recently, Packers safety Nick Collins took a knee to the head during the 2011 season and after spending a year trying to rehab and come back, officially announced his retirement in September of 2012 after the Packers released him. Collins had hoped to play again, but doctors told him the risks were just too great.
In 1999, tight end Mark Chmura had been recovering from a previous neck injury when he was hit on the crown of the head while attempting a catch over the middle. Chmura felt tingling through his body, suffering a disc herniation which took him off the field for the year. The Packers released him in 2000, and though he did attempt a comeback, a recurrence of the injury while working out ended that, and he didn’t play another game for the Packers.
The Packers have also seen other players, like second-round pick wide receiver Terrance Murphy in 2005, and fourth-round pick safety Gary Berry in 2000, who each took “stingers” only to uncover a genetic predisposition to neck injury called spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which also has led to the retirement of the players.
Probably the highest profile Packer to end his career with a neck injury was Sterling Sharpe. The receiver had been to the Pro Bowl in four of the previous five seasons, and was on his way to becoming the all-time Packers receptions leader. The neck injury ended his career in 1994.
Jermichael Finley told us after his concussion just four weeks ago that he was aware of the risks involved in the NFL, and even though he says his family worries about him constantly, including his children, it is what he loves to do. Hopefully for Jermichael’s sake, he will continue to be able to do that. However, Finley and his doctors now have to decide if those risks are now too high to continue playing the game he loves.
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