Itís been nearly a decade since Mark Chmura was acquitted of third-degree sexual assault charges in suburban Milwaukee.
Although Chmura was legally cleared, the reputation of the Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl tight end took a major hit in subsequent years.
Any discussion of prom parties and hot tubs ultimately led to bad or tasteless jokes involving Chmura. His name has been dragged through the mud countless times, and some view him with disdain or disgust.
But the time to move on is long overdue. Chmuraís induction into the Packers Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the Lambeau Field Atrium should help in the healing process and serve to formally welcome him back into the Packers family where he belongs.
This is not meant to excuse Chmuraís behavior a decade ago. Chmura himself has admitted he was guilty of bad judgment and immature actions. He has apologized, but more importantly, has spent the last 10 years serving as a productive member of society and solid citizen.
For those who donít believe Chmura is worthy of Hall of Fame induction based on character issues, the time has come to let go.
It would be different had Chmura been convicted of a crime, but a jury found him not guilty. The fact he has nevertheless paid a heavy price in the form of public scorn should give those who stand in judgment their pound of flesh.
To his credit, Chmura has never played the victim card and suggested people feel sorry for him.
Instead, in the midst of public ridicule, he picked himself up, gritted his teeth and moved forward. He became a better husband and father and has contributed to his workplace and community.
What more can we possibly ask of him?
Denny Tattum, Packers Hall of Fame vice president of sales and marketing, said a playerís off-field activities, both good and bad, are taken into account during the selection process.
ďChmura, No. 1, was acquitted,Ē said Tattum. ďChmura, No. 2, has really been in a lot of ways a staunch supporter of the community he lives in. Professionally heís upheld his part of the program as far as his commitment to the community, his job and his family.Ē
Some choose to dwell on past mistakes and wallow in what-ifs. But one measure of success is how a person responds to adversity and failure. Chmura has passed that test with flying colors.
It would have been easy for Chmura to flee the state, yet he chose to stay among us to begin the painful process of rebuilding his reputation.
Had Chmura continued a pattern of questionable behavior, the critics would have reason to doubt him. But over the past decade Chmura has changed the course of his life by doing the right things.
He was honored not only for his past on-field accomplishments, but also his ability to move on from the past and learn from it.
Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Press-Gazette.