Dozens of current and former Grand Valley State players, coaches and staff hopped on a bus and headed north to do their part. Once there, they braved rain, mud and mosquitoes in search of Finnerty, 30, who had meant so much to the Allendale school.
Any hopes they had of a happy ending, however, were dashed when search Team 19 discovered the remains of the 6-foot-3, 230-pound ex-athlete in the late evening hours of Tuesday, May 28, within a mile of where he had disappeared.
Grand Valley coach Matt Mitchell was among those looking for Finnerty. He said at the time that the discovery “crushed” him, a sentiment shared by many about the death of a man who led the Lakers to more than 50 victories and three Division II national titles, the last in 2006.
Finnerty briefly was a member of the Baltimore Ravens and later the Denver Broncos but never took a snap in a regular season game.
A Grand Valley State helmet and jersey were laid on Finnerty’s casket during his funeral service in June.
Reach Mike Householder at mhouseholder(at)ap.org or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mikehouseholder