One of the winningest quarterbacks in college football history was found dead in the woods of Michigan last night after going missing Sunday evening, having called his family on a fishing trip near a family cabin, with a suspicious sounding plea. Now, the circumstances surrounding his death provided more new questions than answers. Investigators discovered the body of Cullen Finnerty, the 30-year-old former three-time Division II national championship quarterback for Grand Valley State University, near the Webber Township, about 65 miles north of Grand Rapids.
Finnerty decided to go fishing Sunday evening after Memorial Day celebrations with his family. So he grabbed a boat and headed toward the the family cottage. But something went very, very wrong that night. Finnerty called his family, said he "was nervous about something," and that he was in danger, Sheriff Robert Hilts told reporters Tuesday night. Finnerty asked to be picked up. The family was worried "he might be having some kind of a mental episode — that he was either afraid or something and ran off into the woods," Hilts explained.
After days of tracking his cellphone until the battery died, then launching a search party with hundreds of volunteers from Finnerty's football past, his body was finally found late Tuesday evening. Finnerty's hunting gear was still on it. He was just a half-mile from the cabin where he was supposed to stay. The sheriff explained that no foul play was expected, and that autopsy results would reveal more.
Finnerty was a standout quarterback for Grand Valley State. He won three national championships between 2003 and 2006 in the NCAA's Division II and left school with a 36-4 record. He briefly had stints with the NFL's Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens but never got time on an NFL field. His coach freshman year was Notre Dame's current head coach Brian Kelly, who described the whole scenario as "very chilling." And that was before things turned truly grim.