Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley has decided to undergo a spinal fusion surgery as he recovers from a career-threatening neck injury, his agent announced through a statement on Wednesday.
Blake Baratz verified that his client will have the procedure, which will be performed by Pittsburgh Steelers team neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon, in a statement first reported by ProFootballTalk.com.
Baratz's comments come one day after former Packers tight end Mark Chmura, during an interview with Milwaukee sports radio station 540 AM, stated he believed Finley would need surgery and that his career is likely over.
Chmura's own playing career was cut short due to a herniated disc in his neck in 1999.
"We have spent countless hours over the past few weeks meeting with the top spine specialists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons throughout the country to gather information and opinions regarding Jermichael Finley's spinal-cord injury," said Baratz. "Since Mr. Chmura decided to speak out publicly and inaccurately regarding this situation, we felt that it would be best to clarify the facts on Jermichael's behalf. First and foremost, Jermichael's long-term health is our primary concern. While his return to professional football is a hot topic of conversation, his ability to live a long and fulfilling life with his loved ones is by far and away our main objective.
"Regarding Jermichael's specific injury, it is important to note that expert opinions differ across the board, from surgical procedures to rehabilitation methods to returning to contact sports. Working alongside the Packers organization, we have discussed and analyzed all of these opinions, as well as all of the potential scenarios moving forward. We have collectively determined that while surgery may not be 100 percent necessary, it is a proactive measure that should alleviate future risks with regards to a similar episode or re- injury. Jermichael has elected to undergo a spinal fusion with Dr. Joseph Maroon, the Pittsburgh Steelers team Neurosurgeon. Dr. Maroon is experienced in conducting this type of procedure on professional athletes in contact sports, and is confident that Jermichael will fully recover following the procedure. Once surgery has been completed, Jermichael has every intention of resuming his football career, and we fully support his efforts to do so."
Finley was taken off the field on a stretcher after taking a hard shot to the head from Cleveland safety Tashaun Gipson in an Oct. 20 game against the Browns. The Packers placed him on injured reserve last week.
The 26-year-old has been a key contributor to the Packers' offense since his sophomore season in 2009. With 25 catches totaling 300 yards and three touchdowns through the first six games of this season, Finley was on pace to match or exceed career bests in all three categories.