Brian Finneran will no longer be an Atlanta Falcon. This news ends an 11-year career with the team that saw him bridge the gap from Chris Chandler to Michael Vick and finally Matt Ryan. Finneran was about as Falcon as you can get and in the words of the ever-wordsmithy Jason Kirk, "Brother was a gotdang genuine Falcon if ever there was one."
He's a monument. The name Finneran is Irish for "Bird-Like Man Who Snatches Pigskin Out of the Air With Talons". That may or may not be true but I'm 64 percent sure that's right.
He was reliable. Only 15 players played more games in the Red and Black than Finneran did and of the current roster, only Todd McClure has him beat. If his 2006 and 2007 seasons weren't wiped out by injury, he'd be in the top 10. Even more impressive: Since 2000, only nine receivers have played more games than No. 86. And that's with missing two entire seasons!
Stay with me through the jump to continue the walk down memory lane. Which will be renamed Finneran Lane from now on.
He was never a dominant No. 1 receiver but that's not what you expected from an undrafted free agent. He was a solid possession receiver who worked well out of the slot and for two seasons (2002 and 2005) he flirted with being really good.
If this is the last time Finneran plays in the NFL, he won't be considered for the Hall of Fame or even be thought of as one of the best receivers in Falcons history. But that's not the point. He was an integral part of a team that went through many ups and downs since 2000 and he was always there.
Whether it was catching the go-ahead touchdown against the 49ers in 2001 (only to lose in OT) or making the game-winning grab in the Meadowlands in 2002 to beat the Giants, Finneran had his moments. Even this season, he seemed to be able to re-create some of that old magic with touchdowns against the Cardinals, Rams and Bengals.
The move means the Falcons are getting younger and Finneran unfortunately, is not. This wasn't a surprise with Kerry Meier coming back from injury and the Falcons looking to receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft. Doesn't make it any easier though. There's talk that Finneran may find his way back to the Falcons depending on the new CBA and how free agency shakes out but it's a longshot.
I'd like to see Finneran stay with the team, if not as a player, in some front office capacity. Until that happens, I leave you with a random list of Finneran's accomplishments:
- His 18 playoff receptions is second on the team all-time (Terance Mathis, 23).
- His 206 yards receiving in the playoffs is fifth-most.
- Despite this, he never caught a touchdown in six postseason games.
- 16 of his 19 career touchdowns were redzone scores. His longest TD came from 47 yards out.
- He caught nine TD passes from Vick. Four from Ryan and three from Chandler. He also caught one apiece from Matt Schaub, Doug Johnson and Kurt Kittner.