He was seriously injured, but fortunately, not enough to cause paralysis. Doing what a smart, resourceful person who requires his body to earn a living would do, he took out an insurance policy on the 2014 season. In it, he's eligible to file a claim for the $10 million stated in his policy if he's missed four games by Oct. 20, 2014, according to USA Today's Tom Pelissero.
For the Steelers, in their apparent efforts to sign Finley, that would mean he'd have seven eligible games to miss by then if he intends to double-dip, so to speak.
The Steelers are at Houston for Monday Night Football Oct. 20 - the last game of the NFL's Week 7 slate of action. Per his policy, it would seem Finley could miss four of the team's first seven games and collect $10 million from insurance. At the same time, it only seems reasonable the policy would contain language that would prevent him from just sitting out a few games, then coming back to play.
Clearly, receiving the go-ahead from doctors isn't nullifying his policy - the surgeon who performed the spinal fusion operation, Dr. Joseph Maroon, is the Steelers' neurosurgeon. Dr. Maroon has cleared Finley to return to the NFL already, and continues to participate in his rehabilitation.
It's a matter of the language of the policy, and if the carrier simply said we're willing to protect you in the event you are unable to play in four games in 2014 by Oct. 20, then it shouldn't matter whether Finley is able to play in 12 other games. Perhaps the fact he didn't know at the time whether the surgery would enable him to play was determined to be enough for him to say that, alone, will destroy my value in free agency, so I may as well get it.
All of this seems to indicate he can miss the first four games of the season, collect on the policy and play in the remaining 12 games. In the Steelers' case, that would mean he could miss Week 1 vs. Cleveland, Week 2 at Baltimore, Week 3 at Carolina and Week 4 vs. Tampa Bay. The earliest he could play while still collecting on the policy would be Week 5 at Jacksonville.