GREEN BAY, WIS. (AP) - Mark Chmura was pretty sure this day would never come.
The former Green Bay tight end was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on Saturday despite a career that was tarnished by a sexual assault allegation.
A vital cog on the Packers’ two Super Bowl teams in the 1990s and a three-time Pro Bowl selection, Chmura called this the “icing on the cake” of his football life.
He was joined by Glory Years tight end Marv Fleming and 1980s offensive tackle Greg Koch in the hall’s 40th class of inductees.
Chmura caught 188 passes for 2,253 yards and 17 touchdowns during his career in Green Bay, but many best remember him for a high-profile sexual assault trial at the end of his career. A girl who was 17 at the time accused him of assaulting her in a bathroom during a post-prom party at a friend’s home in April 2000.
He was acquitted in February 2001 and retired from football four months later.
“I saw all the guys from my era going in,” Chmura said before the ceremony. “I probably wasn’t too sure whether I was going to go in. The last couple of years, I kind of skirted away, didn’t follow too much who was going, because probably in the back of my mind, I didn’t really know if I was going to be able to.”
Chmura was a sixth-round pick in 1992 who almost quit early in his first training camp because of a bad back. He was convinced to stick around by then-head coach Mike Holmgren and tight ends coach Andy Reid, spending the year on injured reserve.
Although the Packers Hall of Fame is located at Lambeau Field, it operates as a nonprofit corporation independent from the team.
Saturday’s enshrinement came a day after current defensive end Johnny Jolly was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for an undisclosed violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy
He is facing drug charges in Houston after his July 2008 arrest outside a club for possession of at least 200 grams of codeine. If convicted, Jolly faces up to 20 years in prison.
Koch, now a lawyer in Houston, talked at length about honor and character.
“If I were talking to young players today, I’d say, ‘Let me tell you something. You have just hit the lottery,’” he said. “‘Don’t ask me how I know this, but if you’re going to an ATM at 2 o’clock in the morning, it’s never for a good reason. Get off the street, play this game. You’ve hit the lottery. Don’t do anything to screw that up.”