Memories Of A Packers Hall Of Famer: Mark Chmura

Former Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura is among three 2010 inductees into the team's Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is slated for Saturday, July 17. A sixth-round selection in 1992 from Boston College, Chmura spent eight seasons in Green Bay (1992-99) and appeared in 89 games with 62 starts. He posted 188 receptions for 2,253 yards and 17 touchdowns during his career, with his reception and touchdown totals ranking fourth all-time among Packers tight ends. Chmura earned All-Pro honors in 1995, was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (1995, 1997-98), and was a key contributor to the Packers' Super Bowl XXXI and XXXII teams. Packers.com caught up with Chmura to ask him to share with fans his recollections of the most memorable game in which he played for Green Bay, aside from the two Super Bowls.

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It wasn't a game that led directly to a Super Bowl, at least not that year, but it was a pivotal one in the Packers' progression toward an NFL championship in the mid-1990s.

It was the 1995 NFC Divisional playoff against the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers. The Packers had beaten the Atlanta Falcons at home the previous week in the Wild Card round, while the Niners had a bye and were rested and playing at home.

Both Green Bay and San Francisco had finished 11-5 during the regular season, and the 49ers got the bye and home game based on a better conference record (8-4 to 7-5). But the stature of the two teams was vastly different from the statistics, as the Packers were viewed as big-time underdogs.

"No one was really giving us any chance at winning the game," Chmura said. "They were already talking San Francisco was going to play Dallas in the NFC Championship, but we went in and pretty much dominated that game from the start.

"I think that game gave us the confidence to eventually win the Super Bowl and become the team that we became. That was probably the game."

The domination started right from San Francisco's first offensive play midway through the first quarter. Linebacker Wayne Simmons put a big hit on fullback Adam Walker as he caught a pass in the flat, jarring the ball loose. Cornerback Craig Newsome scooped it up and raced 31 yards for a touchdown, and the Packers never trailed.

The Packers eventually led 21-0 in the second quarter before going on to win 27-17 in a game that wasn't anywhere near that close. San Francisco quarterback Steve Young attempted 65 passes to Brett Favre's 28 because the Niners were in catch-up mode the whole time.

"We were so much more physical than they were, and I think that game conversely affected them, because I don't think they beat us the many times we played them until (Terrell) Owens caught that ball in the last seconds of the ('98 playoff) game," Chmura said. "So I think that game had the opposite effect on them, where they just felt they couldn't beat us."

Indeed, the Packers went on to win five straight over the 49ers beginning with that game, including two more postseason contests, before the Young-to-Owens last-second miracle in the 1998 Wild Card meeting.

But back to the '95 playoffs for a moment. The offense's two first-half scoring drives, which covered 62 and 72 yards to make it 21-0, established something for the future in their own right. On the first, tight end Keith Jackson caught a 35-yard pass down the middle and capped the drive with a 3-yard TD reception. On the next drive, Jackson caught another 35-yard pass and Chmura found the end zone from 13 yards out.

For the game, Jackson caught four passes for 101 yards and Chmura had three grabs for 19, with the two TDs between them. That helped lay the foundation for the two-tight end production the Packers would see the following season, when Jackson and Chmura combined for 68 receptions, 875 yards and 10 TDs. Those numbers were close to those of leading receiver Antonio Freeman, who had 56 catches for 933 yards and nine TDs in 1996.

"I think we were just another piece of the puzzle," Chmura said. "We were so balanced offensively, ... who were you going to stop? If you're going to stop me and Keith, then you're going to have to deal with Robert (Brooks), (Don) Beebe and 'Free'. And then if you're going to stop them, you have to deal with Dorsey (Levens) and Edgar (Bennett).

"It's so difficult to stop a seven-headed monster. I think most offensive coordinators would take that type of balance over two superstars on offense, because it's much easier to shut down a couple of guys.

"The nice thing about that team throughout those years is we were so unselfish. You don't see that in the type of players you see today. Guys really enjoyed seeing other guys score and do well. That's what made those years so special."

Even though the Packers went on to lose the NFC Championship in Dallas after beating San Francisco in the '95 playoffs, they had cleared a significant hurdle. Green Bay had lost on the road in the divisional round the previous two seasons and were considered a notch below the elite Cowboys and 49ers teams.

But after knocking off the defending champions, the Packers were on their way to joining the elite themselves, a status that they kept hearing from head coach Mike Holmgren they were going to earn sooner rather than later.

"Mike and the coaching staff did such a great job of just constantly telling us we were good enough to beat teams like this," Chmura said. "Head coaches, especially Mike, have to be part-psychologist. A team's psyche is so fragile, and I think he just kept pounding it into our heads that we're a good team and we can do this.

"There was a progression we went through, where we'd win a playoff game and then we'd win two. And then after we won that game, it was another stepping stone. Mike did a great job of just showing us the progression and that we were climbing and climbing until we win this thing, and eventually we did."


Tickets for the July 17 induction banquet, which begins with the doors opening at 4:30 p.m. with a cash bar, and dinner and program to follow at 7 p.m., are $125 each. To purchase tickets, call Gwen Borga at 920/965-6984, or e-mail her at gborga@packerhalloffame.org.

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