Spurned Cortland Finnegan Says He Wanted to Retire in Tennessee; Weighs in on the Bounty Scandal

March 7, 2012 – 7:45 am by Brad Gagnon

With the Tennessee Titans deciding to let him walk, cornerback Cortland Finnegan is about to become one of the most highly sought after players on the free-agent market. Finnegan hasn’t been shy about the fact he’s disappointed the Titans are moving on without him, but the former All-Pro is only 28 and is likely to make a fortune on the open market.

Cortland Finnegan joined the Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. to talk about his divorce from the Titans, changes in Nashville, his on-field persona and potential new teams. And naturally, he was asked to give his thoughts on the bounty scandal rocking the league. He addressed that, and talked about whether he saw any leftover remnants of that mentality when he joined the Titans in 2006.

On if he’s disappointed that Tennessee didn’t make a bigger effort to keep him:

“I guess yes, sir. I mean the fact that I spent so long there, it was just like college — so sweet that you want to retire there. That’s just all you know, your alma mater there in college. So a little bit of me wanted to retire there. I definitely loved the community and my foundation is there, so that was a big part of my life there. But I understand there’s a business side to it as well.”

On the changes that took place in Tennessee last year:

“You know, it wasn’t much change at all. I think coach Munchak had his way of doing things and that was the difference there. But it was a pleasure playing for coach Munchak. Not only did he play the game at a high level but he’s a Hall of Famer so there was much respect for him. When he spoke, which was very few because he’s (an) offensive lineman, you definitely listened. He was a joy to play with, and it’s sad that I won’t be playing with him anymore. So there wasn’t much change — he’s gonna do well there.”

On his fiery on-field reputation:

“You have to be a certain way on the field. You have to play with intensity and love for the game and the things of that nature and you gotta know where to draw the line. But off the field when you take the helmet off, you’re a human, you have emotions and feelings, and I have passions and love. And that’s my foundation, in working with kids with special needs and disabilities. That’s just something I’ll always continue to do is just give back to the place that continues to show support and love for each other. Just gotta continue to do those good things.”

On how one particular incident with Andre Johnson has affected how he’s portrayed:

“Well jokingly I say, ‘I can take a punch, can’t I?’ and wink at ‘em. But no, it definitely wasn’t a good role model tape for anybody showing a fourth-grade class by any stretch. But that’s where you learn from your mistakes. You realize that there’s some things you can and can’t do and some things you should and shouldn’t do. And it’s just a constant reminder that two guys in the heat of the battle–and it’s just part of it.You learn from your mistakes and you move forward.”

On if there was any remnants of a bounty program when he arrived in Tennessee, six years after Gregg Williams had left:

“No sir, no sir. There wasn’t. There just wasn’t. That just wasn’t part of what we were doing then when I got there. We had a lot of guys — Keith Bulluck, Kyle Vanden Bosch — and those guys really setting the tone and leading the way. So there was none of that, no sir.”

On other teams doing it:

“You know what? You have to be a bad man to just wanna go out there and hurt somebody … I don’t know realistically that you can do that. And it’s been done and that stinks, because you never wanna go out there and hurt a guy. He’s ultimately trying to put food on his table and provide for his family, and you want to make it a clean football game and may the best man win.”

On what he thinks the punishment should be for a coach who coordinates bounties:

“See I wouldn’t know. I think when every guy signs up for this game of football they know how violent and how physical it can be at times and that the best way you can handle that is protect yourself at all times. I don’t know if that’s an indication–I don’t condone it by any stretch of the imagination.”

On if the Redskins are one of the teams he’s targeted as an impending free agent:

“There’s 31 other teams right now that I definitely have interest in, and whatever team has a need in that position, hopefully they’re targeting me and I’m targeting them.”

Listen to Cortland Finnegan on ESPN 980 here

Brad Gagnon is also the NFL editor at theScore.com‘s Goal-Line Stand blog. He can be followed on Twitter right here.

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