Clearwater’s B.J. Finney retires from NFL

B.J. Finney talks with students at Clearwater Intermediate Center during a 2015 career day. Finney, a Clearwater native and a graduate of Andale High School and Kansas State University, was getting ready to head to an NFL rookie camp in Pittsburgh after signing with the Steelers as a free agent following the NFL draft.

CLEARWATER – B.J. Finney has announced his retirement from the National Football League. That is according to a report from the Kansas City Star.
The report cited medical reasons for Finney’s retirement.
Finney, 30, grew up in Clearwater before attending Andale High School. He then went on to a standout collegiate career with the Kansas State Wildcats.
He played in seven games for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2021 season, starting two games at left tackle. He was placed on the injured reserved list in December for a back injury.
Finney went undrafted in 2015, but signed as a free agent with the Steelers – his favorite team as a youth. He played for Pittsburgh from 2015 to 2019, and again in 2021. He spent time with both the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals during the 2020 season. He played in 73 NFL games, starting 15 of them.
He played in all 16 games in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Finney’s love for the Steelers goes back to his father, who died of a heart attack when Finney was just 13 years old.
As a Wildcat, Finney was named second-team All-American three times, in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He was first team All-Big 12 in 2012 and 2013.

hsB.J. Finney signs autographs for Clearwater Middle School students in 2013. He was still a member of the Kansas State Wildcats football team.

Following is a story from the May 7, 2015 edition of The Times-Sentinel. Finney visited with the paper shortly after signing with the Steelers. He spent much of that first season on the Pittsburgh practice squad.

NFL dream continues

Finney goes undrafted but signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers

By Travis Mounts

CLEARWATER – Two things seem to be givens in B.J. Finney’s athletic career. One is that he’s never been handed success. The other is that when given an opportunity, he makes the most of it.
Finney – a Clearwater native who attended Andale High School before becoming a standout center at Kansas State University – now has the opportunity to build a career as a professional football player in the National Football League. But that opportunity appeared to be in jeopardy during the NFL draft, held over the weekend. Finney was projected to be drafted somewhere in the fourth, fifth or sixth round of the seven-round draft. However, as the sixth round rolled along, it began looking like he would not be drafted.
And by the end of the sixth round, Finney was hoping he would not be drafted. That sounds counterintuitive, but during the sixth round Finney’s phone began to ring. Teams were calling to tell him that if he went undrafted, they would like to sign him as an undrafted free agent.
“We knew it would be a possibility” that he would not be drafted, Finney said, adding that he would have liked to have had the honor of saying that he was drafted by an NFL team. That honor was secondary, however.
“At the end of the day, all I really wanted was an opportunity,” he said by phone Monday night.
That opportunity will be with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that the entire family has supported for years. The family’s love of the Steelers began with Finney’s father, who died 11 years ago.
“My dad watched the dynasty days back in the 1970s (when the Steelers won four Super Bowl titles). He grew up watching that team. My mom was a Kansas City fan,” Finney said. “Being dad’s only boy in the family, it was black and gold on Sunday.”
Finney’s NFL career is starting in a similar fashion to his college career. The story has been told many times over the past five years. Division I schools overlooked Finney. He walked on to the Kansas State team, paying his own way.
Money was tight – Finney had just enough to attend two semesters. But in that first year, he made enough of an impression on head coach Bill Snyder and the rest of the Wildcats’ coaching staff that he earned a scholarship. By the end of his career, he was a four-year starter with 52 consecutive starts and was the first offensive lineman in school history voted as a team captain three times. He won multiple awards during his career, including being named as the Big 12 co-offensive lineman of the year as a senior and earning first-team all Big 12 honors for three years.

Chasing a dream

Being an NFL player has long been a dream of Finney’s. Pursuing that dream is an odd process, however.
One scouting report praised Finney as having a “sturdy, NFL-ready build. It pointed to his high school wrestling career (four-year letterman, State champion as a senior), saying that Finney understands leverage. It noted how he allowed just 2.5 sacks during four years as a starter.
But among the weaknesses, the report called Finney “short-armed.” At times, it’s like judging a piece of meat.
“That’s essentially what this process is. They’re trying to judge what piece you are – filet mignon or flank steak or rump roast,” Finney said.
There were many positives, however.
“You meet a lot of cool guys. You have to put your best foot forward and hope for the best,” he said. “I was very blessed to meet a lot of great coaches. I learned a lot.”
Finney paused for a few moments when asked what was the best quality he could bring to an NFL team.
“I’m committed. I’m consistent. I work hard. I’m disciplined. I provide leadership when I’m expected. I’m intelligent. I will hold my teammates accountable and I expect them to do the same for me,” he said.
Hometown roots

Last Friday, Finney spent his day with a group of people with their own hopes and dreams – fourth through sixth grade students at the Clearwater Intermediate Center. It was career day at the CIC, and students were learning about a variety of careers. Finney was the day’s motivational speaker. He addressed all the students at the start of the day, and then joined nearly 40 other professionals meeting students in small groups throughout the day.
Finney spent his entire life in Clearwater before going to Andale just before the start of his freshman year. But he still calls Clearwater home.
“Clearwater’s always my hometown. I always say Clearwater is where I grew up and Andale is where I went to high school,” Finney said.
He spent Saturday at his uncle’s farm near Wellington, with about 100 family and friends in attendance for the drafts final rounds, as well as the drama that ensued when he went undrafted and then announced he had signed with the Steelers.
Finney also talked about family when addressing CIC students on Friday. He said losing his father was a setback. He said he wasn’t sure he wanted to continue football.
“I shared it with him,” he said. Family kept him going, however.
“Every time I step on the field, I’m thinking of them.”
When asked about his heroes, Finney cited his father and uncle.
“They’re the quality of men I want to be. That’s what I’m chasing,” he said.

What’s next?

Finney leaves this Thursday for Pittsburgh. He’ll attend a rookie weekend and then take part in mini camps. He’ll be done in mid-June. If they want to keep him, he’ll go back for regular training camp in mid-July. Teams start training camp with 90 players; 53 will make the starting day roster. Up to 10 more players could be added