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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

Stop, Before You Turn NFL Players Into Heroes

February 06, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

Every time I begin to pine for the return of the NFL, I'm reminded how much safer our hot tubs are without it.

People move to Wisconsin because they think it's safe and a great place to raise children, while never taking into consideration there are Packers living there.

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I HEARD A jury had acquitted former Green Bay Packer tight end Mark Chmura of sexual assault and child enticement charges over the weekend, but until I watched his post-trial news conference, I had no idea he had been the victim as well as the defendant.

He cried, his wife said, "I'm so proud of him," and his attorney, Gerald Boyle, said Chmura displayed the same kind of courage as those people who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I will pause here for a moment to allow the magnitude of that last incredible, outrageous and stupid statement to sink in.

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THIS IS WHAT happens when you allow the NFL to come to your town.

Jury duty, of course, might be more interesting with an NFL team in town and the probability of running into one of the players on trial, but the way things are going in this league, life with the NFL on the premises just seems a little sleazier.

"[Chmura] put himself in a bad situation by being drunk with kids and in a hot tub in his underwear," jury foreman Brad Breidenstein told the Associated Press. "We all agreed that they were in that bathroom together. But we don't really know what took place."

This is the ringing endorsement that the jury gave him as they set him free, but instead of going quietly into the frozen tundra, Chmura chose to remind everyone he can still play the game of football.

That's one more good reason to be thankful L.A. doesn't have a team.

At the same time his wife, Lynda, stepped to the microphone and reminded everyone "He is an incredible, incredible person," and he must be if he could explain to her why he was sitting in a hot tub in his underwear at 3 in the morning with adolescent girls and not have a black eye.

His attorney took his turn at the microphone and suggested he had found another character witness, explaining he had just left a 19-year-old baby-sitter at the Chmura home who had told him she had worked for the family for years and she didn't have a baby by Mark.

What's the record for most stupid statements made by a single person in one lifetime?

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THIS WAS ALL beginning to sound like a testimonial, like Chmura was someone to be admired for being so stupid, and then he spoke. He said, "I promise you, nothing like this will ever happen again."

Chmura didn't take the witness stand in his own defense, and judging by that comment, you now know why.

As he continued to speak, a large crowd of supporters waited outside. Many had already asked and received his autograph, and when reporters asked Chmura about this remarkable show of support, he said, "Green Bay Packers."

And every one in the room understood.

What's next for Chmura: "We're going to Disney World," he said.

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I KNOW THE Clippers are young--I didn't realize they were still babies.

After a veteran lineup defeated Portland in one of the team's top moments of the season, several of the Clipper rookies went into a pout because they didn't get much playing time in the victory.

"It's the new breed of athlete in the NBA," said Coach Alvin Gentry.

These young kids just don't know how precious a Clipper victory is.

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THE CLIPPERS DEFEATED the Bulls Monday night, and now have 16 wins--one more than all last season--with 33 games to play.

I would suggest a downtown parade--it might be the only reason to have one for an NBA team in this town this year.

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IT'S ONE THING for NBA referee Joe Forte to eject singer Jimmy Buffett from his seat along the baseline during the Knicks' game with the Miami Heat for using profanity. But I'm more interested in what the Heat did--team officials escorted him to another seat--apparently in the obscenity section.

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IF NHL GOALIES' Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur, Sean Burke, Roman Cechmanek, Patrick Roy and Evgeni Nabokov combined to surrender 26 goals in the NHL All-Star game--what if the Kings' Jamie Storr had been in goal?

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I NOW KNOW what it must have felt like for people who were there the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points. I can say now I was there the night Clipper center Michael Olowokandi scored 21.

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I KNOW THE arrest of Clifford Robinson for driving under the influence of alcohol brings the number of Phoenix Suns charged with some kind of crime to three in the past four months, but frankly I don't see what's the big deal--they have 12 players on their roster.

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YOU PROBABLY NOTICED that Jim Harrick's Georgia team received a few more points than Steve Lavin's UCLA team in the USA Today coaches' poll--I'm sure officials are investigating to see if Harrick had anything to do with padding the totals.

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TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Ginna:

"Readers are now skipping down to the bottom of your column to zero in on the Last Word. I suggest you make the Last Word the first paragraph if you want anyone to read the rest of your stuff."

Your e-mail will put a stop to that.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address: t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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