Titans’ Finnegan honored by All Sports Association
January 20, 2010 8:54 PM
FORT WALTON BEACH — To this day, Cortland Finnegan still isn’t quite sure whether his most distinctive high school football memory is a fond one.
The former Milton High star and current Tennessee Titans’ defensive back had been dubbed “Mr. Everything” for his wide range of playmaking abilities with the Panthers. Naturally, arch-enemy Pace had something to say about that.
And of course, there was no better time for Patriots’ fans to convey their strong opinion than in a playoff game pitting two of the Panhandle’s fiercest rivals. What greeted Finnegan was “tons of posters” that labeled him as “Mr. Nothing.”
He’ll never forget it, and not because he’s got longstanding animosity. To him, it was the essence of the Milton-Pace feud.
“That’s what the rivalry was all about: Getting under the other guy’s skin,” Finnegan said. “That actually summed up our rivalry.”
The nickname Mr. Everything still applies to Finnegan, although it’s taken on a different meaning since his high school days on the gridiron. As an All-Pro cornerback with the Titans, he’s still making his mark on the field. Off it, he’s been praised for his work through his foundation, ARK 31, which helps children with special needs and disabilities.
For everything that Mr. Everything has recently accomplished, the All Sports Association has named him as the Fort Walton Beach-based organization’s 2010 Professional Award winner. He succeeds another former Milton star athlete — PGA Tour golfer Boo Weekley.
“Just knowing the guys who won before me, it’s a big deal and I’m honored,” the 25-year-old Finnegan said. “I was blown away.”
Finnegan said he will be able to attend the All Sports Association’s 41st Annual Awards Dinner on Feb. 19 in Fort Walton Beach.
Other All Sports award winners announced so far have been Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller (Wuerffel Trophy), LSU baseball star Blake Dean (Collegiate Award) and Special Olympics champion Melanie Comer (Special Olympian Award). LPGA Tour legend Annika Sorenstam has been announced as the guest speaker.
“All Sports is proud to honor Cortland Finnegan,” All Sports President Robert McEachern said. “Cortland’s not only an All-Pro and team leader with the Tennessee Titans, he’s an active humanitarian serving children with special needs through his ARK 31 Foundation.”
Despite being chosen in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Samford, it didn’t take long for Finnegan to establish himself as one of the league’s top cornerbacks. In 2008, his third year in the pros, Finnegan was a first-team All-Pro selection and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Despite missing three games this season, the 5-foot-10, 188-pound Finnegan still posted numbers similar to his ’08 campaign. He matched his interception total with five and only had seven less tackles, finishing with 63.
He’s been honored off the field as well. Finnegan was picked as a candidate for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year campaign in 2008.
He’s proven to be just as driven in his foundation work as he is in trying to shut down the NFL’s top receivers. It’s a quality that All Sports recognized and that Finnegan takes great pride in.
“You put a smile on a kid’s face because you’re a football player,” Finnegan said of his visits to hospitals. “You really can’t put into words what that means.”