Think we should resign him? Think he's too expensive? Think we can win without him?
Well, that's not what this post is about so don't worry about that right now.
I just want us to focus on Finnegan's time in two-toned blue prior to 2012. Whether or not he stays in it or goes somewhere else is out of our control at the moment.
Hit the jump. You know you want to.
Cortland Temujin Finnegan was drafted out of Samford after having a very impressive college season. He started 3 full seasons with the program, and excelled at both Free Safety and as a punt returner. Draft experts and coaches alike were voting him into their All-American clubs after his senior year.
Despite all of this, Finnegan nearly went undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft. It wasn't until the 215th pick in the draft that the Tennessee Titans drafted him. He went from being an amazing free safety in college to being a 7th round draft pick. Some blamed his size, others blamed his demeanor on the field.
Regardless, this really put a chip on Finnegan's shoulder that hasn't stopped being there. In his rookie debut against the Jets in Week 1, he had a sack and a forced fumble.
When he finally got starting time for the Titans against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11, he made an immediate impact, with 11 tackles and 2 passes deflected. The guy too little to tackle the bigger guys was not just tackling them, but smacking them in the mouth.
From that point on, he ended up racking up 21 tackles, including 7 in a one-point victory over the Bills.
The 7th rounder was producing in a starting role at cornerback, even though most of his college career was as a safety.
In 2008, Finnegan's presence was felt for sure on the field, and in the Titans locker room. He brought a personality to the team that was unique. Where-as Vince Young flip-flopped between being cool-headed and acting like a brat, Finnegan flip-flopped between being ultra-competitive and super-friendly. That's a great and uncommon combination for a football player.
To open the year, Finnegan repeatedly stole things from a certain Jacksonville Jaguar's QB. The QB was named David Garrard, and what Finnegan kept stealing was the football. Finnegan had two interceptions in the game that helped spur a Titans-sponsored blowout of the Jaguars. The entire fanbase of the Jaguars had visited LP Field and had bought seats for that game, and all three of them left before the game ended.
Finnegan followed it up with 2 INT's the following 2 weeks, one returned nearly the entire length of the field for a touchdown.
He finished his stellar 2008 season with 67 tackles, 17 pass deflections, a sack, and 5 INTs. He was succeeding in the NFL at the cornerback position despite being a free safety in college. I'm sure some poor fool of a critic told him he couldn't play outside of his position the year before, placing yet another chip on his shoulder.
In the following 3 seasons, he ended up with 238 tackles, 31 passes deflected, 8 interceptions, and 2 defensive TDs. Finnegan only missed 3 games in that span, all of which his presence was sorely missed, especially against the deadly accurate Tom Brady in the game-that-shall-not-be-named. He made his sole Pro Bowl in 2008, teaming up with Asomugha on the other side of the field.
The 7th rounder too small to play the bigger guys, the free safety/punt specialist that couldn't play cornerback, the dude with the over-aggressive on the field attitude, the guy playing for a small-market AFC South team... was voted into the Pro Bowl and stood next to Nnamdi Asomugha in the starting lineup.
That's quite a feat.
Despite his avid work in the communities of Nashville, all the money and time he contributed to sick children, including becoming incredibly close to a young girl with cancer... Finnegan earned the reputation of being dirty and classless after his 2010 season, in which he racked up 40,000 dollars in fines and earned a one-game suspension for bringing out Andre Johnson's inner aspiring boxer in the RUSTYYYY!-sponsored 20-0 blowout by the Texans. He was voted the dirtiest player in the NFL, beating out Hines Ward. At that point, not many outside Tennessee liked him. Even some Titans fans began being bipolar, especially about his knack of getting stupid penalties because of his overly aggressive playstyle.
In the 2011 preseason, Finnegan made a business decision that many other players have made; He didn't show up for training camp due to his contract status. It's a tactic that NFL players pull, normally heavily involving their agents. If they don't feel like the front office is paying enough attention to their contract, or not taking them seriously enough, then they skip camp and hope their absence pressures the front office into getting a contract done. Revis did it, Chris Johnson did it, and Finnegan did it on some level. This normally backfires into getting negative press and bad reactions from the fans, but if the bluff works on the front office and the player doing it gets their contract, it's a good business decision. It worked for Revis. It worked for Chris Johnson. It didn't work for Cortland Finnegan.
Now, in the off-season of 2012, it's not looking good for Finnegan to come back to the Titans. He wants more than the Titans are willing to pay him. It would be a huge loss for the Titans if he couldn't come back. Jason McCourty is a great cornerback in his own right, and ATV should be back to his playmaking ways since his sophomore slump has passed, but nobody really added a fiestiness and toughness to our pass defense like Finnegan has. Finnegan is one of the biggest competitors of any Titans, up there with the likes of Steve McNair, Keith Bulluck, Jevon Kearse, and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
No matter what happens in the future, I just hope we still reflect on Finnegan's past 5 seasons in two-toned blue with respect for his level of play, a love-hate relationship with his antics, and a wish for him finding future success.
Cortland, if you find future success on another team that overpays you, or if you help get a team like the 2008 13-3 Titans to the Superbowl, just remember. We took you in the 7th when you were ignored 214 times. We bred you, we built you up, and we helped you succeed. The Titans helped you become who you are...
So, when you get that ten million dollar contract that you're looking for, just remember; The Tennessee Titans are the reason you're making all that money. You may spend time with other teams, but you'll always be a Titan.
Whether this is farewell or you will take more snaps with the Titans, let me say something that I'm sure everyone can agree on.
Finnegan, for all your polarizing competitiveness, for your sometimes reckless aggressiveness, for all your stupid penalties... You're still pretty awesome, as a player and as a human being. May you find success in football and in life... just -DON'T- sign with one of our fellow AFC South teams.
Thank you for the memories.