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 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT