Work in Sports
Chmura's troubles prompt TE pick
Miami's Franks enthusiastic about playing with Favre
Posted: Saturday April 15, 2000 06:30 PM
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Mark Chmura's future with the Packers looks dim after Green Bay effectively replaced him in Saturday's NFL draft.
The Packers picked Bubba Franks, a 6-foot-5 tight end from Miami, with the 14th overall selection. GM Ron Wolf said the Packers identified the tight end position as one of their biggest holes even before Chmura was accused last week of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl.
Chmura, a three-time Pro Bowler, missed 14 games last season with a neck injury that briefly had him considering retirement. With Chmura's legal problems added onto his iffy medical situation, the Packers decided Franks was their choice.
"This is what felt good to us," coach Mike Sherman said. "I think [Franks] has the ability to be a starter in this offense. Whatever role he plays on our team this year, he'll be a big target for Brett Favre."
The massive, speedy Franks was widely considered the best tight end in the draft. He will be heavily counted upon to mature quickly into the Packers' offense and to help Favre, who struggled throughout last season while Chmura, his favorite target, sat out.
"Green Bay is a great organization. I like the fans with the little cheeseheads," Franks said. "It's very exciting to me to get the opportunity to play with Brett Favre."
Franks was dominant at Miami as a redshirt junior last season, catching 45 passes for 565 yards and five touchdowns. He left school a year early after promising his mother he would finish his degree. Franks watched the draft with family and friends in his hometown of Big Spring, Texas.
Franks, a college roommate of Colts running back Edgerrin James, worked out for Packers tight ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski earlier this week. After a strong workout and interview, Jagodzinski told Franks the Packers would pick him if he were available at No. 14.
The tight end position was one of the Packers' strengths throughout the 1990s. Chmura was one of the league's elite at the position, catching 188 passes for 2,253 yards and 17 touchdowns over seven seasons.
But Chmura is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old Pewaukee, Wis., girl without her consent at neighbor Robert Gessert's house, where a party was held a week ago after a prom for students at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha. The girl was a former babysitter for Chmura's two children. While he hasn't been formally charged, Chmura almost certainly will face a lengthy legal battle -- and possible sanctions under the NFL's anti-crime policy -- to resume his career, and even then it likely wouldn't happen in Green Bay. Five Packers players have been in trouble with the law since the season ended in January. Wolf, who speaks rhapsodically of the importance of having players both with good character and playing ability, complained of a team-wide lack of discipline and character after firing coach Ray Rhodes in January.
Wolf said the Packers were never fully convinced that Chmura would be able to return from the numbness in his arms that sidelined him for the bulk of the 1999 season. At the time, Chmura considered retirement but decided to try rehabilitation instead.
Wolf read a brief, noncommittal statement about Chmura's situation before speaking with reporters Saturday. He and Sherman then declined further comment on Chmura.
The Packers' selection of Franks also was pushed forward when the team was unable to trade up in the draft in order to pick a defensive lineman and also was unable to sign free agent lineman Sam Adams.
Adams, who played with Seattle last season, called off a Saturday meeting with the Packers despite saying he was frustrated with the Baltimore Ravens' contract offers. Moments before the draft began, he signed with the Ravens.
"We thought he was a quality player and could help us," Wolf said of Adams. "My understanding is that his wife doesn't want to live in Green Bay."
Wolf had previously identified the defensive line as his top priority in the draft. But Corey Simon and Shaun Ellis, the two linemen the Packers most coveted, were snapped up by Philadelphia and the New York Jets, respectively.