The New York Times Sunday did a big takeout, three pages, on the mysterious death of three-time Division II quarterback Cullen Finnerty. But there are still no answers about what caused his demise.
The Times sent a sports reporter out to Michigan to interview Finnerty’s family. On May 26, the 30-year-old father of two was declared missing in a woods where he had gone fishing alone. Two days later, his body was found lying face down, with no apparent injuries or wounds.
I immediately suspected that some kind of football head injury or concussion contributed to his death. Apparently, some of Finnerty’s family members are angry about that type of speculation. But something was amiss before Finnerty went missing, and died.
According to The Times, he had complained about headaches and had insomnia during the days before his death. And also right before he went missing, he made two phones: one to his wife and one to his brother-in-law. He sounded afraid and panicked during both calls, and claimed he thought two men he had met were following him.
This wasn’t the first time that Finnerty, who played for Grand Valley State, exhibited paranoia to his family.
Here’s the money graph from The Times’s story:
“The family says it does not blame football for Finnerty’s death. Some even resent the speculation that it played a role. But his siblings do wonder, after all the stories about head injuries, after all the research into concussions and their cumulative effect, especially with the way Finnerty played football, the way he craved contact and hid injuries from the trainers.”
According to his medical records, Finnerty only had one diagnosed concussion, The Times reported. But his family believes he probably sustained dozens of head injuries during his career.
An autopsy didn’t determine a cause of death for Finnerty, but it did rule out a heart attack. Additional test results are still pending.