Tight end Jermichael Finley smiles as he sweats during Green Bay Packers Training Camp at Ray Nitschke Field Tuesday, August 10, 2010. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette
Mark Chmura thinks Jermichael Finley talks too much. Finley wishes Chmura would mind his own business.
What we have is a good old fashioned spat between Green Bay Packers tight ends, one that was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame last month and the other a rising National Football League star expected to play a major role in the Packers offense this season.
Finley is confident, talkative and not afraid to show his enthusiasm. During a televised interview following the Packers’ Family Night scrimmage last Saturday, Finley shouted a couple references to the Super Bowl, which is where he hopes the Packers wind up this season.
The next day Chmura went on his radio show in Milwaukee and blasted Finley.
“He is a great player, but he is a moron,” said Chmura, who went on to offer some advice to the third-year tight end.
“First thing I’d do, I’d say, ‘Shut your mouth. Shut up. Shut up. You’re dumb,’ ” Chmura said on the air. “You’re a heck of a player but … be quiet!”
Naturally, Finley didn’t take kindly to Chmura’s remarks.
“Obviously he’s got some hate for me and I don’t know why,” Finley said. “I ain’t done nothing to him. I think I’m a good guy. I thought he was. I looked over his little accident he had so what can get worse than that?”
Chmura was acquitted in a sexual assault trial nearly 10 years ago, which shouldn’t disqualify him from speaking his mind. But Finley doesn’t understand what he did to deserve Chmura’s wrath.
“I don’t think it’s fair that he can (criticize me), because I’ve matured over the past two years,” Finley said. “Coming into my third year I’m trying to do bigger and better things and I don’t need no one bringing me down, talking crap or whatnot. I haven’t been in jail. I haven’t been caught with drugs, none of that crazy stuff, so what can you say about me? I think I’ve got a clear slate.”
Chmura didn’t return a message seeking further comment, but his radio remarks speak for themselves. He’s an old-school football player who was part of the Packers’ last Super Bowl championship team in 1996. He obviously prefers players that keep their mouths shut and play.
Finley speaks loudly on and off the field and sees no harm in making his goals public.
“I’m a team guy all the way,” Finley said. “Every time I catch the ball it’s for my team. I want to make my team great. It’s for the organization, to get the organization to that (championship) level where we’re supposed to be.”
Finley has admittedly dealt with some maturity issues, especially as a rookie when he publicly complained about how the Packers were using him. His coaches have watched him grow up and love the positive energy he brings to the team.
“I take a lot of pride as far as he’s come,” tight ends coach Ben McAdoo said. “It’s special to see a young man mature.
“He’s working hard at doing things the right way and I like the direction he’s going.”
Finley is a matchup nightmare for defenders. He’s too fast for linebackers and too tall for defensive backs. His goal to become the best tight end in the NFL isn’t a pipe dream.
“The most important thing he brings to our offense and our football team is his energy,” McAdoo said. “You can feel him when he’s dialed in out there. I think the defense can feel him. He has an energy about him that’s exciting and an enthusiasm about him that’s exciting. When he’s playing and he’s dialed in and he’s positive, I think it helps everybody raise their game to another level.”
McAdoo said he wants players brimming with confidence and has no problem with Finley expressing his personal and team goals to the media.
“We talk a lot about being yourself and what frame of mind you have to be in to play your best football,” McAdoo said. “If you spend all your time trying to be somebody you’re not, it’s usually going to come back and bite you in the back side.”
Don’t expect Finley to heed Chmura’s advice. He has more important things to worry about.
“I’m not focused on Chmura, I’m focused on getting to the Super Bowl right now,” Finley said.
“I don’t know if he doesn’t like me because I’m a tight end here. He doesn’t want (Aaron Rodgers) to throw me the ball or something? I don’t know what’s up with that. I’m competing. Hopefully I get his records and he can talk some more.”
-- Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Press-Gazette