GREEN BAY – Jermichael Finley wants to be like Tony Gonzalez. If he succeeds, the Green Bay Packers’ offense will be even more dangerous than last season, even without free-agent wide receiver Greg Jennings, now a member of the rival Minnesota Vikings.
Finley joined Paul Allen, the radio play-by-play voice of the Vikings, on Twin Cities radio station KFAN Wednesday morning and held forth on a variety of subjects, including which player he emulates. After being compared to Antonio Gates by guest Corey Chavous, Finley went a different direction.
“The tight end I would like to mimic is Gonzalez. He’s consistent,” Finley told Allen. “That’s where I would like to take my game.”
Last month, Gonzalez informed the Atlanta Falcons that he would return in 2013 after saying during the season he was 95 percent sure he would retire after the 2012 season. The future Pro Football Hall of Famer, who turned 37 in February, led the Falcons with 93 catches for 930 yards and eight touchdowns last season, all single-season highs for his four seasons in Atlanta. He added 14 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the team's two playoff games.
Gonzalez, who played his first 12 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, is a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, has more receptions, TD receptions, receiving yards, 100-yard games and Pro Bowl appearances than any tight end in NFL history.
Finley came on strong in the second half of last season and finished with 61 receptions – most by a tight end in Packers history – for 667 yards and two touchdowns. His cap number for 2013 is $8.25 million, having received a $3 million roster bonus on March 26 to go with a $4.45 million base salary, according to NFL Players Association data, and other bonuses. Finley signed a two-year deal, $14 million before hitting free agency in February 2012.
Speaking with Allen, Finley said being the highest paid tight end in the NFL in 2013 won’t affect him.
“Fat and happy, I would never. You could give me $100 mil. I would never get fat and happy,” said Finley, who also spoke about “slimming down” this offseason. Finley was listed at 247 pounds last year.
“I’m just working a little bit harder. Slimming down,” Finley said. “I didn’t try to do it; it’s just how it worked.”
Finley appeared with his agent, Blake Baratz, and is apparently having a documentary done about him. Baratz said it’s being done by a branding company called Full Circle Intermedia and compared it to HBO’s Hard Knocks. The camera crew was with them inside the KFAN studio.
“They’re going to put on an 18-minute series on Jermichael and his life,” Baratz said. “It’s not scripted, it’s not planned. Everybody is going to see what he’s like – good, bad and indifferent. … That’s what the fans want to see. They don’t want to see the scripted press conferences.”
Finley spoke about a few other topics, including:
On the return of inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, a Baratz client who missed last season with a torn hamstring: “Desmond is a big asset to our defense. It was much needed last year. He got injured. That happens in the league. The Packers had to replace him, but you can’t replace a guy like Desmond Bishop. Hopefully he comes back healthy and comes back with a bang.”
On Jennings joining the Vikings: “He’s going to be a big playmaker. I see Christian Ponder being a great quarterback next year. You get a guy like Greg Jennings, who’s going to detail every aspect of his game and (Ponder’s), Greg is not only a great player; he’s a great person also. … I would think Greg will be a big help for Christian. He’s going to be in his ear like a little gnat. It’s going to be nice to see.”
On how losing Jennings hurts the Packers: “He’s a great player, but we’ve got a lot of guys on the shelf right now (in Green Bay). And you know the mastermind of Ted Thompson. … (And) we’ve got the best quarterback in the league.”
On linebacker Brian Urlacher leaving the Chicago Bears: “It’ll be awesome, because he’s one of those guys who’s savvy. He’s going to read the offense and pretty much knows our playbook in and out. It’ll be nice to have him out of the NFC (North). … He’s had injuries here and there. I would say he’s slowed up a little, but he still had the knowledge to overcome the slow step that he had. He knows the game, so he can overcome being slow.”
Meanwhile, Baratz was asked about his Tweet from last season, which questioned quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ leadership. Baratz said he apologized to both Finley and Rodgers.
“(But) really to Jermichael because he got dragged into something he had nothing to do with,” Baratz said. “That’s what I was apologetic about, not necessarily what I said. … Everyone just attached it to him because he’s said so many comments regarding Aaron Rodgers.”
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