Skip to main content

School: Ex-star quarterback found dead after going missing during fishing trip

By Karan Olson and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Wed May 29, 2013
Cullen Finnerty, a former star college quarterback who was briefly on NFL team rosters, <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/28/us/michigan-missing-quarterback/index.html'>was found dead</a> on Tuesday, May 28, near Baldwin, Michigan. The 30-year-old had gone missing two days earlier while on a fishing trip, his alma mater, Grand Valley State University, tweeted. Here, Finnerty appears while on the Denver Broncos, a team that he signed with in 2008. Cullen Finnerty, a former star college quarterback who was briefly on NFL team rosters, was found dead on Tuesday, May 28, near Baldwin, Michigan. The 30-year-old had gone missing two days earlier while on a fishing trip, his alma mater, Grand Valley State University, tweeted. Here, Finnerty appears while on the Denver Broncos, a team that he signed with in 2008.
HIDE CAPTION
Ex-college football star Cullen Finnerty
Ex-college football star Cullen Finnerty
Ex-college football star Cullen Finnerty
Ex-college football star Cullen Finnerty
Ex-college football star Cullen Finnerty
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Cullen Finnerty's body has been found, his alma mater tweets
  • He went fishing Sunday in northern Michigan, hadn't been seen since
  • A website named the Grand Valley State star Division II's best player in the 2000s
  • Finnerty was with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens for a year, though he never got in a game

(CNN) -- A former star college quarterback was found dead in northern Michigan on Tuesday night, two days after he went missing while on a fishing excursion, his former university said.

Grand Valley State University tweeted around 9:15 p.m. (10:15 p.m. ET) Tuesday that the body of Cullen Finnerty had been found near Baldwin, Michigan. This came after an intensive search by police, firefighters and ex-teammates on Tuesday.

"The Grand Valley community is saddened to learn of the death of former Laker quarterback Cullen Finnerty," the school said.

Finnerty, who spent time with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, set off Sunday to fish in Lake County -- which is between Traverse City and Grand Rapids -- but hadn't been heard from since, Sheriff Robert Hilts said Tuesday.

A flier posted on MissingCases.com/Facebook indicated Finnerty was last heard from Sunday evening. The family of the ex-football standout has a cabin close to a campground near where he disappeared.

The only solid lead on Finnerty's whereabouts had been the discovery of a small pontoon boat he had been using in Bray Creek, near the Baldwin River, Hilts said. Video from CNN affiliate WTOM showed the boat perched on the waterway's rocky shore.

No foul play was suspected in the 30-year-old's disappearance, the sheriff said before Finnerty's body was found.

Searchers -- including members of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, area fire departments and state police -- worked with Finnerty's family to coordinate resources.

They were joined by alumni including former football players, current students and staff at Grand Valley State University, where Finnerty starred in football between 2003 and 2006. The school is just west of Grand Rapids.

Head football coach Matt Mitchell said Lakers players also joined the hunt on Tuesday.

"He's a big character kid and had a lot of friendships," Mitchell said in a video posted on Grand Valley State's website. "I think that's the only reason why so many people are coming to his aid."

The Brighton, Michigan, native played four seasons at Grand Valley State, which traditionally has one of the premier programs in Division II college football.

Finnerty compiled a 36-4 record in his time at the school, winning national championships in three seasons. (His first coach there was Brian Kelly, who now coaches at Notre Dame.)

According to a news release after the Lakers' 17-14 championship win, he ended his collegiate career having won 28 straight games and having been ranked No. 1 in 23 consecutive polls of Division II football. D2football.com, a website focused on Division II football, named Finnerty its player of the decade for the 2000s.

After his graduation, he joined the Ravens. Finnerty never got into a regular season game, though -- as the Baltimore Sun reported -- he was called up from the practice squad and put on the Ravens' active roster in December 2007. The Denver Post reported Finnerty was briefly with the Denver Broncos the next year.

Finnerty was married with two young children, Grand Valley State assistant football coach Jim Schaak, who was among those taking part in Tuesday's search, told WTOM.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT