Originally posted on cover32 - Dolphins  |  Last updated 7/2/14
Cortland Finnegan rubs many the wrong way, but it seems that those who despise him the most know the least about him, or they are Andre Johnson. To the casual fan the most memorable moment of Finnegan’s career came with his Sunday afternoon sprawl with the aforementioned Andre Johnson, but one would be remiss not to dig deeper.   Finnegan was a Sunshine State product, as he went to Milton High School. The Florida native, was raised in a single-family home by his mother, Linda Finnegan, who retired from the Army with 20 years of service. Three of those years came in Korea when Cortland was a young child. Toughness and grit weren’t things Cortland had to search for in life, they were characteristics on display in his home and he embodied them from an early age. He was the man of the house and he worked like it.   Despite his athleticism and drive, Cortland wasn’t a big time prospect, but he proved to those that would watch that he was a big time football player. At Samford University he played safety and during his sophomore campaign he registered 108 tackles. Despite this, his ability to tackle was questioned and his overall game was questioned at least in part because of his small stature. Scouts asked how could he have enough fight in him to stand up to bigger and stronger competition?   Despite these questions the 5’10’’ 188 lb Finnegan couldn’t be kept out of the league. In his 2006 pre-draft workouts, he impressed scouts with his blazing speed when he posted a 4.33 second 40, he showed good strength when he bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times and showed tremendous hops when he recorded a 44-inch vertical jump. Despite a stellar showing pre-draft, Cortland had to wait until the seventh round to hear his name called, but when he was drafted he became the first Samford University player drafted into the NFL since 1969.   It was far from a sure thing that the Samford product would make the Tennessee Titans roster as a rookie in 2006, but the former college safety made the transition to cornerback and not only made the team but won playing time in nickel and dime packages that season. In 2007 he knew he could play, and the rest of the league would soon learn.  Cortland won a starting job at the beginning of 2007 and (when healthy) has since been removed from a lineup. Cortland went from a projected practice squad player to a Pro Bowl starter in 2009 and went from a dime a dozen defensive back prospect to a commodity when he was a free agent in 2012 and he signed a five-year, $50 million ($27 million guaranteed) deal with the St. Louis Rams.   Sure his stint in St. Louis didn’t go the way he wanted, as he was rated the second worst corner in the league in 2013 by Pro Football Focus, but he’s not in St. Louis anymore. Of course, his unsuccessful stint and drop from the top of his class to the basement raised questions and recently Cortland didn’t hold back and blamed former Rams coach Tim Walton for his struggles.   Finnegan said “(f)rom the game plan to the technique to fundamentals, they weren’t in line with a defensive coordinator who when what he was doing. He was a great defensive backs coach, but when you’re over your head, it’s kind of tough…Here coaches know to play guys to their strengths, I wish I had been here as long time ago. [Coordinator Kevin] Coyle is so good at dissecting offenses.”  Cortland has been getting eaten up for his comments. And maybe he should have left the question alone, but he wasn’t scared to give an honest answer. Sure the Rams would blame his poor performance on his injuries, but Cortland gave an unfiltered take, just what we wanted, and we can’t crucify him for that. This same (insert your expletive) has been spending extra time after practice teaching young corners he’s competing against the craft, and he has supposedly been doing the same thing in the film room. He seems a little less self-involved when you consider that.   And if you don’t like his style of play because it isn’t, soft enough, or is “unsportsmanlike” I ask you just to think twice before insulting the man and not the player. Cortland was the 2010 Titans Community Man of the Year, and the honor was well deserved. Cortland has his own foundation, ARK 31, which primarily aims to service special needs children, as his older sister, Felicia, had Down syndrome and passed away before Cortland was born, but the foundation also raises money for a variety of other causes including Leukemia research. And next time you want to say that every player is just chasing paper consider Cortland, a man who wants to become a volunteer firefighter and a football coach after his playing days are over.   I cant tell you how #24 will play this year, whether the old Cortland and Grimes will form one of the best tandems in the league, or whether the Dolphins signed the guy who earned the 2nd-worst PFF CB grade of 2013. I do know one think though, and that is once you have been hungry you can never be full. Cortland has been hungry his whole life and even though he’s feasted on his competition over the years, he’s nowhere near full. If Cortland’s mind cant keep up with his body, his insight will still benefit the young defensive backs, but if Cortland can regain his form then opposing receivers wont earn their checks.  Either way the community will benefit from Cortland’s presence.   If you have 12 minutes please take them to get to know one of your new favorite players. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-71mGtFQVSw Make sure you follow @cover32_MIA and @cover32_NFL on Twitter for all the latest breaking news, columns, blogs and features from the Dolphins and the entire NFL. You may also be interested in:Cortland Finnegan’s fresh new start with MiamiDolphins players show their pride for US soccerMiami Dolphins DEs Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon named top-20 in NFL
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