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By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 25, 2000

Chmura still hopes to return

MILWAUKEE -- Mark Chmura wants to play again.

Chmura, 31, charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl at an April prom party at his friend's home, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he is not going to stop playing football because of something he didn't do.

The Packers released the tight end after he was charged, but Chmura said he is not bitter about the team's decision.

"I still love the Green Bay Packers," he told the newspaper. "Do I wish I was playing for the Green Bay Packers right now? Absolutely."

Chmura said he couldn't watch television on the opening day of the season.

"I always thought I would retire a Packer. That would have been the perfect ending to the story," he said.

But Chmura said he is ready to move on and knows other teams are interested. He said he could be ready to play this season, although he and his wife, Lynda, probably would not want to make a permanent move far from Wisconsin.

Chmura said he doesn't think pleading his innocence to the public will change some people's minds.

He is pleased, however, with how family and friends have supported him.

"When this first came out, there wasn't a whole lot of people in my corner," Chmura said. "People still come up to me, still ask for an autograph, ask for pictures. And offer their prayers. Which gives me a lot of faith."

Chmura's friend, Robert Gessert, has been charged with fondling an 18-year-old woman in a hot tub at the party held at his home.

BENGALS: Quarterback Akili Smith left the game against Baltimore with a mild concussion after being hit by Rob Burnett.

Smith was flattened early in the second quarter with Cincinnati trailing 17-0. He did not return.

Burnett rushed into the pocket untouched before sticking his helmet into the quarterback's chest and driving him backward. Smith lay on his back for several seconds before a group of trainers rushed to his aid.

He walked off the field on his own but received attention on the sideline while former Baltimore quarterback Scott Mitchell took over.

COLTS: Running back Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar was placed on the injured list with a knee injury that will keep him out of tonight's game against Jacksonville. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound al-Jabbar was injured during the weekend, team spokesman Craig Kelley said. Al-Jabbar, backup to Edgerrin James, signed as a free agent after he was released by Cleveland at the end of last season. Al-Jabbar rushed for almost 3,000 yards in his first three seasons with Miami.

COWBOYS: Quarterback Troy Aikman returned as the starter after missing two games because of his ninth concussion. He was 14-for-25 for 197 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble.

TITANS: Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a was taken from the field by ambulance after he was injured while sacking Pittsburgh's Kent Graham. Salave'a appeared to jam his neck when he tackled Graham late in the second quarter. Salave'a, in his third year out of Arizona, attempted to get up but fell to the turf. After being placed on a back board and immobilized by team medical personnel, Salave'a was taken to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for evaluation. A team spokesman said the 25-year-old was able to move his arms and legs before leaving Three Rivers Stadium.

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