BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The 2011 NFL season was, at best, a mixed bag for the Green Bay Packers. The NFL's best team early on, they impressed with a 15-1 record and one of the league's all-time best single-season quarterback performances, as delivered by Aaron Rodgers. But after earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Pack rendered it moot with a divisional round loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The 37-20 defeat put the Packers on ice, made all the regular-season accomplishments relatively meaningless, and had people looking more at the holes in Green Bay's roster than at the undeniable talent it takes to put together that kind of regular season.
Tight end Jermichael Finley represented the Packers at Nike's uniform unveil at New York City's Steiner Studios on Tuesday, and he laid it all about when asked about that playoff loss. "We need to be more consistent, man. That last game, we were off, and the whole world saw it. The best team won, but I don't think we need to change anything. It was just one of those days.
Indeed. When the subject was happily changed to the new uniforms, Finley was both glad that Nike stuck with the traditional Green Bay look, and admiring of the Seattle Seahawks totally overhauled design -- the Seahawks were the only NFL team to receive a real do-over from Nike's designers.
Finley (back row, third from the right) represented the Packers at Nike's uniform unveil. (Getty Images)
The former Texas Longhorn appreciated that there was no rush to remove any aspect of the iconic uniform he's worn his entire NFL career, comparing it to the need to keep the "Hook 'em, Horns" look consistent over time. "Of course, when you're talking about Green Bay, because everything's traditional," he said. "I come to Green Bay, and it's the same as Texas -- everything's simple and easy.
"We don't have Seattle's uniforms, which are mind-boggling ... they're awesome. The Seahawks got some bangin' suits, and Nike did really well with them. I can't wait until everybody steps out with the new unis this year. "
Finley's favorite part of the new gear? "Of course, the gloves." Based on the picture below, it's hard to argue.
The conversation then turned to the 2012 NFL draft, and how Finley thought Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III would fare with their projected new teams -- the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins, in that order.
"I think he's going to bring a lot to the NFL, of course," Finley said of Griffin. "He's a smart guy coming into the league -- he can run, he can throw the ball, and all he has to do now is to learn the speed of the game, and that hard playbook. As a quarterback , it's gonna be pretty tough."
Finley sees Luck as more pro-ready, of course. "I think Luck will be a great fit for the Colts. Just because of the way they ran everything around Peyton Manning, and I can't wait to see what he does this year."
Of course, the real question for Finley is what he and the Packers will do this upcoming year. Finley has a new two-year contract, but there are still a lot of questions about his consistency. When he's on, Finley's an almost unstoppable target for Rodgers, but he'll disappear and drop easy catches far too often.
The uniform he's wearing in 2012 doesn't look that different, but if the Packers are to get back to the Super Bowl, Finley will have to be a slightly different -- and better -- player. The good news is that he likes the feel of the new uniforms better than the ones he used to wear.
"It's more comfortable -- as a receiver, I'm saying. When you put your hands up, the cuts under the arms are fitted. The pants ... everything's great."
And there it is. No more excuses -- right down to the right uniform fit, Finley has everything he needs to become one of the game's greats. Just as it was on Tuesday in Brooklyn, the spotlight will be on him throughout 2012.
- Jermichael Finley
- Green Bay Packers
- the Packers