GREEN BAY, Wis. — For the first time since Jermichael Finley was taken off the field Sunday on a stretcher, the Green Bay Packers tight end is back at his house.
Finley was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon after staying nearly 96 hours under the supervision of doctors. Finley spent the first full day in the intensive care unit.
“Home Sweet Home!,” Finley posted on Twitter around 4:00 p.m. CT on Thursday.
Finley has a spinal contusion, though the team has continued to classify it as a neck injury.
“Jermichael Finley suffered a significant injury,” coach Mike McCarthy said Monday.
Finley was injured after a 10-yard completion early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game when Cleveland Browns safety Tashaun Gipson hit him with shoulder-to-head contact. Gipson was penalized 15 yards for leading with his helmet, but McCarthy had no issue with the hit.
“I didn’t think it was a dirty play,” McCarthy said. “I thought it was two guys playing football, or three guys that were involved in the collision.”
It remains to be seen when — or if — Finley will be able to resume his NFL career.
“There’s a lot more studies that are going on, opinions to be heard,” McCarthy said Monday. “Anything as far as a timeline would be premature to really comment on that.”
According to tight end Andrew Quarless, Finley was already talking with doctors Sunday night about playing football again.
“One of (Finley’s) biggest things was, ‘I’m going to get back,'” Quarless said. “That’s in any of us. Anytime any guys go down, I mean, this is what we love to do, so that’s the first thing (Finley asked about: ‘When am I going to get back? What’s the timetable?’ and stuff like that.”
The Packers, however, aren’t concerning themselves with Finley’s playing status right now.
“With Jermichael, the No. 1 thing is to make sure he and his family are taken care of, because over and above what we do, we’re people first,” tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. “He’s our No. 1 concern.”
For Fontenot, who played 16 NFL seasons and is in his seventh season coaching in Green Bay, this wasn’t his first time seeing a player leave the field on a stretcher.
“Whenever It happens, it’s never easy to see,” Fontenot said. “We all know that that’s part of the risk of playing and that’s an unfortunate reality that players live in.”
Fontenot mentioned Dennis Byrd and Mike Utley, two players in his 1989 draft class, both of whom suffered neck injuries. Byrd was eventually able to walk again, but Utley is unable to walk.
“Unfortunately, you get visions of injuries like that occurring and it’s always tough to see,” Fontenot said. “Whenever it’s one of the guys in your family, it’s really hard. We’ll all be here and be supportive and hopefully there’s a gold pot at the end of the rainbow here. Sometimes through hardships, good things come out of it.”
While it was Quarless who was first at Finley’s side at the time of the injury, Fontenot later walked onto the field to see how the situation was looking.
“I could tell something was wrong,” Fontenot said. “Obviously from there, it was a little bit surreal. By that point they had already taken off his facemask, so I knew it probably wasn’t good. I just tried to console him as best I could in that moment.”
Fontenot agreed with McCarthy and Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements that the hit on Finley was not a dirty play. But that just served as a reminder for Fontenot that there’s only so much the NFL can do for player safety.
“This is a primary example why, because you can see what happens even when it’s unavoidable,” Fontenot said. “Those ones that can be avoided, I would support it fully if I was still playing.”