LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Angelina County held its 6th Annual Lufkin Pro Day. One of the honorees was former Green Bay Packer and Diboll native Jermichael Finley.
After six years in the NFL and a spinal cord injury later, Finley admitted the dangers of football grew to be too much.
While Finley has fond memories of playing for Green Bay, he realized it was time to hang up the cleats and call it quits on Monday.
"Lambeau Field, it doesn't get any better than that. It's a very historical stadium and I can't complain," said Finley.
The NFL lifestyle is one many only dream of. However, the reality Finley explains of all the lights, cameras and fame, it comes with a price- a gamble with your health.
"The game is getting dangerous and more dangerous every day. I had to protect myself, my family, my kids, so I had to step down and hang the cleats up. I'm here today blessed," said Finley.
The decision to retire stems from a hit Finley took in 2013. It's left him was a spinal cord bruise that's yet to heal, nerve damage and vertebrae in his neck that have still not fused back together even after surgery.
"Those hits are vicious. I don't want to wake up one day and not even be able to talk to my kids, walk with my kids, be in a wheelchair etcetera," said Finley. "It was a pretty easy decision. I see more head collisions, I see the knee injuries, I see more neck injuries since I got injured and it's just not healthy."
To this day, Finley said he feels no pain even though his body hasn't healed completely from the contact sport. Finley acknowledges with football, hard hits are the nature of the beast and he's not sure the NFL can do much more to put stop to it.
"It's the game of football. You don't want to make it powder puff football so you got to play the game," said Finley. "You're in it. If you're in the NFL, you're grown. You made the decision so you got to go out in there in the line of duty."
Stepping away from football was a decision he ultimately made for his health, and for his family. The game has even filled Finley with doubt when it comes to his own kids playing football.
"When I first got injured I said 'I'd never let them play football' but we got out to the city where we stay in Aledo, Texas and my son saw the kids running around," said Finley. "I realized I'm going to let him have his childhood and let him play football. It's going to get even more dangerous when he get old so it's his decision.
Finley said he's now living with his wife and kids in Aledo, and he's taking online courses to finish his degree at the University of Texas.