Former member of the Green Bay Packers Jermichael Finley has received clearance from Dr. Joseph Maroon, the neurosurgeon who fused the tight end's C3 and C4 vertebrates, to resume his career. In March, Finley met with the Seattle Seahawks, and he has reportedly had discussions with the Miami Dolphins, in his quest to get back on the field. According to Finley's agent, Blake Baratz, the visits are getting ready to pick up, with Finley scheduled to meet Friday with a team Baratz declined to identify.
Early speculation has that unnamed team being the New England Patriots, who could be looking to pair Finley with Rob Gronkowski, giving New England the tight end duo they missed last year with Gronkowski injured for much of the year and Aaron Hernandez in jail awaiting trial for murder.
Wherever Finley lands, he will first have to get cleared by the team's doctors, not just based on the clearance of the doctor who performed the surgery. It is worth nothing, Dr. Maroon has been the team neurosurgeon of the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1981 (as well as the Medical Director of WWE), so he does understand the rigors of the NFL, and should be providing Finley with medical advice based on the hits he will sustain if he does get back on the field.
The Seahawks were reported to have failed Finley on his physical when he met with the club last month. He could re-visit the Super Bowl champions to get clearance now that his doctor has cleared him.
Finley was originally injured in October on a collision in a game against the Cleveland Browns. Tashaun Gipson, who made the hit on Finley, was flagged for leading-with-the-helmet on the hit, but was not fined for the hit. Reviews of the play show Gipson did not use his helmet, but rather led with his shoulder, hitting Finley in the head as the tight end tried to duck under the hit.
"I didn't think it was a dirty play," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. "I thought it was two guys playing football, or three guys that were involved in the collision."
Finley spent the night in the ICU after the hit, along with four additional days in the hospital. After a few weeks of attempting to allow the injury to heal, Finley had surgery in November in an effort to be able to return to the NFL this season.
The free agent tight end is considered a hot commodity on the free agency market, if he is fully cleared by teams to resume his career. Joining the Seahawks, Dolphins, and Patriots as teams thought to be interested in Finley, the New York Giants could make a push for the tight end, and the Packers are thought to be interested in re-signing him.