Legendary guard deserves more

Jerry Kramer turned 70 years old this year. Is that possible? It doesn't seem so long ago watching Kramer lead the way for Paul Hornung or Jim Taylor on the Green Bay power sweep. The power sweep was the bread and butter play for Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, and right guard Jerry Kramer was one of the key reasons for it's consistent success.

Under Lombardi, the Packers won five NFL Titles, including the first two Super Bowls, in seven years. Kramer recently had his Super I championship ring retuned to him, after losing it on an airplane 25 years ago. Kramer has a lot of championship rings, but he could have had even more. The Lombardi Packers were that good. In the nine years Lombardi coached the Packers, you could make an argument that the Packers could have won eight titles.

The Packers won it all in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967. In 1960 they should have beaten the Eagles in the NFL Championship game, a game they lost 17-13. The Packers out-gained the Eagles by a wide margin, but settled for field goals early in the game despite having outstanding field position. The game ended with Taylor being tackled inside the Eagle 10-yard line. In 1963 the Packers finished 11-2-1. The Chicago Bears finished 11-1-2. The Bears gave the Packers their only two losses as Chicago won the NFL title. In 1964, had the Packers swept the Baltimore Colts, they would have won the Western Conference. However, the Packers lost both games to the Colts that year, by 1 and 3 points respectively, because Hornung struggled kicking that year (12-38 in field goal attempts).

The excellence of those Packer teams has been cemented in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lombardi of course, was inducted a year after his death. Ten Glory Years players were also inducted, including Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo, Hornung, Willie Wood, and Henry Jordan. One name is missing - Kramer.

Kramer was All-Pro five times. He would have been named to even more All-Pro teams if not for injuries and illness. Kramer was named to the NFL's 1960's All-Decade team. He was also named to the NFL's 50th Anniversary team. He is the only member of that squad not in Canton. He was also named to the All-Super Bowl team. That makes sense. The bigger the game, the better Kramer played.

The 1962 NFL Championship game was played at Yankee Stadium in frigid and blustery conditions. Some Packers have said it was worse than the conditions of the "Ice Bowl" because of the high winds that were gusting up to 40 mph. The Packers won that hard fought battle 16-7. The difference was 3 field goals. The 3 field goals were kicked by Jerry Kramer, who doubled as a right guard and a kicker that frigid day.

The 1965 NFL Championship featured the Packer 1-2 punch of Taylor and Hornung vs. the great Jimmy Brown. Brown gained just 50 yards in his last ever game, while Hornung ran for 105 yards and Taylor 96. The game started with snow, which turned to rain, which turned Lambeau Field into a mudbath. The Packer sweep dominated the Browns' defense, as Kramer and left guard Fuzzy Thurston kept blowing up linebackers and defensive backs leading the way for the Packer backs. One play in particular stands out - Hornung's last championship touchdown. Kramer pulled left on a left power sweep and blocked one man, and than another, as the "Golden Boy" scored.

Than there was the Ice Bowl. 13 seconds to go...no timeouts. If the Packers run the ball and are stopped short, it is over. Starr, of course, scored on a QB sneak. He ran behind a perfect double team block on Jethro Pugh by C Ken Bowman and Jerry Kramer. Kramer was the one who had to fire out first on that block and get leverage on Pugh, and he did. The ironic part of that play was that Starr called a 31 wedge play in the huddle, which calls for the fullback to get the ball. Starr, however, felt it was safer that he keep the ball because he could get better footing. Kramer definitely got great footing and Starr happily followed his right guard into NFL immortality. The Packers played one more game that year, Lombardi's last game as Packer coach in Super Bowl II. The Packers played that last game for "the old man" as they whipped the Oakland Raiders 33-14.

1967 was also the birth of Jerry Kramer's literary career with the release of the best selling book "Instant Replay," the book he co-authored with Dick Schaap. Kramer and Schaap combined to write other books as well, such as "Lombardi," "Farewell to Football," and "Distant Replay." In October 2005, he released Inside the Locker Room a CD set that includes tapes from Super Bowl II, which includes Coach Lombardi's final locker room address as the coach of the Packers.

There is no question that Kramer has reached the pinnacle of success in the literary world and his various business ventures. There is no question he also deserves the highest honor that pro football can bestow upon him. Maybe the time is coming soon based on the good karma of the returned Super Bowl I ring. A Hall of Fame ring is appropriate, too. It is time for the NFL Hall of Fame veteran's committee to right a wrong. Please write or call the Hall of Fame regarding Kramer's proper induction into Canton.

Pro Football Hall of Fame
2121 George Halas Drive NW
Canton, Ohio 44708
(330) 456-8207

Yes, Jerry Kramer is 70 years old. He has waited FAR too long for his rightful induction into the NFL Hall of Fame. Kramer retired after the 1968 season. A player isn't eligible for the Hall of Fame until five years after he's retired. That means Kramer has been eligible since 1973. That's 33 years! Kramer has been a finalist ten times, but never has received the call from the Hall. Kramer was voted one of the BEST players in the first 50 years of the NFL in 1969. Yet he is not in the Hall of Fame. What a travesty. A travesty that needs to be addressed NOW. Kramer is a NFL Hall of Famer. Period. Let's make it official.

Bob Fox is a longtime Packers fan and frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at greenbaybob@hotmail.com.

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