Nov 8, 2009; San Francisco, CA, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan (31) returns an interception for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers while Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck (53) celebrates in the background in the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park. The Titans defeated the 49ers 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Cortland Finnegan: A True Tennessee Titan

I was browsing the web this morning, looking for something Tennessee Titans related write about, when I came across a posting from a fan (fanoftheunderdogs) over at MusicCityMiracles.com. He gave a detailed recap of all the reasons we’ve grown to love Cortland Finnegan.

…Finnegan nearly went undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft. It wasn’t until the 215th pick in the draft that the Tennessee Titansdrafted him. He went from being an amazing free safety in college to being a 7th round draft pick. Some blamed his size, others blamed him 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.

Finnegan had us all at hello, with his hard-hitting style and fire on the field, it was hard not to love a guy with so much heart.

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.

 

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.

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.

Sorry for how longwinded the quotation was, it just didn’t have any parts you can really cut out. He goes on to say that no matter what happens with Finnegan this offseason, he’ll always be a Titan.

It’s true. Finnegan has dug a hole in the hearts of Titans fans and he’ll always have a place there. We may lose him this offseason, but that won’t change how we feel about him.

It’s upsetting to think this organization is willing to let such a person go. He’s so much more than just that player on the field and he’s meant so much to this community. This is one of the times where the Franchise has a chance to show what kind of character it’s made out of.

A. Sign Finnegan, as he’s done more than enough to earn it. Show the city that character does matter and that we’re about more than just stats.

B. Don’t re-sign Finnegan. Show Nashville how stingy and pathetic of a front office you are. You’ll only re-sign (oh wait, renew because they holdout) players with Hall of Fame potential, even if they don’t have half of the character Finnegan does and maybe give back a quarter as much to the community as Finnegan does.

I realize that the NFL is a business, but sometimes you gotta pay a little more than you want. Sometimes that investment pays dividends.

Go ahead. Make your choice. Just realize the weight of your actions.

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You can also find me on Twitter @JustinLStewart

 

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Tags: Bud Adams Cortland Finnegan Free Agency Mike Munchak NFL Draft Tennessee Titans

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