Cullen Finnerty
No. 8     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1982-08-18)August 18, 1982
Place of birth: Brighton, Michigan
Date of death: May 27, 2013(2013-05-27) (aged 30)[1]
Place of death: Lake County, Michigan
Career information
College: Grand Valley State
Undrafted in 2007
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Baltimore Ravens ( 2007)
Career highlights and awards
* Awards and honors
Stats at

Cullen Finnerty (August 18, 1982 – May 27, 2013) was an American football quarterback. He was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He played college football at Grand Valley State.

Finnerty led the Grand Valley football team to NCAA Division II Football Championships in 2003, 2005, and 2006.

Finnerty was found dead on May 28, 2013, in Lake County, Michigan.[1]

Early yearsEdit

Finnerty was born in Brighton, Michigan, and prepped at Brighton High School, located in Livingston County. He was awarded the Livingston County Football Player of the Year award as a senior, and was named to the Ann Arbor News All-Area First-Team, and Michigan All-State Honorable Mention. Finnerty threw for 1,954 yards and rushed for 636 yards. As a junior, he was named the Ann Arbor News Player of the Year, as well as all-area, all-league and all-Livingston county. Finnerty threw for 459 yards, and kicked three field goals, in his first playoff game as a junior. Finnerty also lettered in track & field and baseball. [2]

High school accoladesEdit

  • Livingston County Player of the Year (Senior year)
  • Ann Arbor News All-Area First-Team
  • Ann Arbor News Player of the Year (Junior year)
  • Honorable mention all-state
  • All-area, all-league and all-county (Junior year)

College careerEdit


In 2001, Cullen Finnerty redshirted his true freshman year at the University of Toledo.

Grand Valley StateEdit

Finnerty transferred to Grand Valley State University in 2002, but he did not play that season. In 2003, he joined the Grand Valley Football team for his first year of eligibility as a freshman.

Freshman seasonEdit

Finnerty was awarded 2003 GLIAC conference Freshman of the Year award, and was named GVSU's Rookie of the Year. He was a two-time GLIAC Player of the Week, and was named Div II Player of the Week. Finnerty earned his first varsity letter as a freshman after starting 14 games. He completed 230-of-363 passes for 2,764 yards and 22 touchdowns, completing 63.4% of his passes. Finnerty was ranked 12th in pass efficiency rating (144.02) and 26th in total offense (256.9) in NCAA Div. II. He rushed for 822 yards and nine touchdowns himself, and also caught one pass as a receiver, for nine yards. Finnerty completed 20 or more passes in a game three times in the season, and broke the 200-yard passing mark six times, including two games of over 300 yards. He completed 19-of-29 passes for 149 yards and rushed for 78 yards on 19 carries in the NCAA Div II National Championship game vs. North Dakota. [3]

Sophomore seasonEdit

In his sophomore year, Finnerty started all 11 games at quarterback. He completed 192-of-333 passes for 2,462 yards and 25 touchdowns, averaging 189.4 yards passing per game. He rushed for 458 yards and five touchdowns on 139 carries. Finnerty tallied 224.6 yards of total offense (passing and rushing) per game. He was ranked 26th in the nation in passing efficiency (138.5), and 42nd in NCAA Division II in total offense per game at 225.4. He was fourth in the GLIAC in both passing yards (189.4) and total offense (225.4) per game. [4]

Junior seasonEdit

With GVSU winning the NCAA Division II National Championship, as a junior Finnerty was named the 2005 GLIAC Offensive Back of the Year, and First-Team All-GLIAC Quarterback. Finnerty was given Honorable Mention on Don Hansen's Football Gazette All-American Team. Finnerty completed 157-of-273 passes for 2,459 yards and 22 touchdowns, while rushing for 523 yards and nine touchdowns himself on the season. In the National Championship match versus Northwest Missouri State University, Finnerty completed 12-of-19 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown, while rushing himself for 59 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in the win. [5]

Through his first 3 seasons, Finnerty recorded a 36-4 record as a starting QB, and produced a 9-1 NCAA Div. II playoff record. He achieved 9,488 offensive yards and 92 career touchdowns, passing for 7,685 yards and 69 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,803 yards and 23 touchdowns. Finnerty ranked second in career total offense at GVSU with 9,488 yards, and third in career passing yards with 7,685 yards, and all with another season yet to play.

Senior seasonEdit

As a senior quarterback, Finnerty became the winningest quarterback in NCAA history for all divisions, with a career record as a starting quarterback of 51-4, and he was named to the 2006 American Football Coaches Association All America Team [6]. Finnerty also earned Daktronics First Team All American honors [7]. He finished the 2006 GVSU season with a 15-0 record, completing 195 of 343 passes for 3,220 passing yards and 41 touchdowns, and leading the nation in quarterback efficiency with 169.32. Finnerty also rushed for 580 yards and 8 touchdowns himself, totalling 3,800 offensive yards and 49 touchdowns on the season, for an average offense of 253.3 yards per game [8] . Finnerty was awarded second place for the Harlon Hill Trophy award [9], just prior to the NCAA Div II national championship match in Florence, Alabama. In the title match versus Northwest Missouri State University, Finnerty completed 15-of-33 passes for 225 yards and rushed for 115 yards on 22 carries for 340 yards of total offense, passing for one touchdown and running for another. Finnerty became the first quarterback in NCAA Division II Championship game history to pass for over 200 yards and also rush for over 100.[2]

Awards and honorsEdit

  • 51–4 career record as a starting quarterback—the winningest quarterback in college football history, regardless of NCAA Division [3]
  • 2003 GLIAC Freshman of the Year [4]
  • 2003 GVSU Rookie of the Year
  • GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week 2003(2 times)
  • Player of the Week 2003 [5]
  • 2005 GLIAC Offensive Back of the Year [6]
  • GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week 2006 (2 times)
  • 2006 GLIAC Player of the Year [7]
  • 2006 American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches' All-America Team [8]
  • 2006 Daktronics First Team All American [9]
  • Finalist, 2006 Harlon Hill Trophy - 2nd place [10]
  • Player of the Decade (2000-2009) [11]

Professional careerEdit

Baltimore RavensEdit

After going undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft, Finnerty was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent. However, he was released by the team in July before the preseason.

Finnerty was re-signed to the practice squad during the season, and was promoted to the active roster for the final two games of the season after an injury to Kyle Boller.

An exclusive-rights free agent in the 2008 offseason, Finnerty was not tendered a contract by the Ravens.

Denver BroncosEdit

On March 27, 2008, Finnerty was signed by the Denver Broncos.

On June 13, 2008, Finnerty was placed on waivers by the Broncos.

Cineplexx Blue DevilsEdit

In October, 2008, Finnerty joined the Cineplexx Blue Devils of Austria.

Finnerty led the team to win the Bodensee Cup tournament. He threw three touchdown passes, ran for a touchdown, and kicked a 26-yard field goal in a 31-13 win over the Swiss national team in the Bodensee Cup title game.

Finnerty was named MVP of the tournament.

Muskegon ThunderEdit

Finnerty was the starting quarterback of the Muskegon Thunder of the CIFL. In 2009 in two games, he had 123 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns to go along with a completion percentage of 46.9 for the 2009 Indoor Football League season.[12]

Personal life Edit

Cullen Finnerty's parents Tim and Maureen Finnerty live in Brighton, Michigan. Cullen and his wife Jennifer lived in Michigan with their two small children.

Disappearance and death Edit

On May 26, 2013, Finnerty was reported missing after he went fishing on the Baldwin River in Michigan.[13][14]

In the evening of May 28, Finnerty was found dead in the woods by local search crews one mile from his fishing boat in Lake County, Michigan. His body had no signs of trauma and was dressed for the elements. An autopsy, released in August 2013, showed Cullen died of pneumonia brought on by inhalation of vomit after he became disoriented.[15] It was possibly because of oxycodone combined with having CTE.[15]

The New York Times ran an article about his life and death in June 2013.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Body of ex-Grand Valley State QB Cullen Finnerty found". USA Today. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  2. [1]
  3. "2015 GVSU Hall of Fame Inductee: Cullen Finnerty".
  4. "GLIAC".
  5. "Cullen Finnerty, Grand Valley State".
  6. "GLIAC".
  7.[dead link]
  8. 06afcaallamericans.pdf
  9. "CIAA puts six on Daktronics All-American Football Team". December 12, 2006.
  11. "All-Decade Team 2000-2009".
  12. "2009 Muskegon Thunder Statistics".
  13. Fitzgerald, Matt. "Former D-II National Champion QB Cullen Finnerty's Body Found After 2-Day Search".
  14. search_for_cullen_finnerty_cou.html
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Family Members of Ex-College Football Players File Wrongful Death Lawsuits vs. NCAA". Sport Illustrated. August 28, 2018.
  16. Bishop, Greg (2013-06-08). "Questions Linger About Death of Former Quarterback" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.

External linksEdit

Template:2003 Grand Valley State Lakers football navbox Template:2005 Grand Valley State Lakers football navbox Template:2006 Grand Valley State Lakers football navbox

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