A little over a month ago, I wrote a story in which a number of Pro Football Hall of Fame members endorsed Jerry Kramer for his rightful place in Canton as well.
Kramer certainly deserves the honor. Kramer played on one of the best pro football teams ever assembled over time, when Vince Lombardi took over in 1959. The Packers under Lombardi won five NFL championships over seven years, including the first two Super Bowls.
Many members of those teams have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lombardi of course, was inducted a year after his death. Ten of his players were also inducted, including Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo, Paul Hornung, Willie Wood and Henry Jordan. One name is missing—Jerry Kramer.
Kramer was drafted in 1958, along with Taylor and Nitschke. That class has turned out to be one of the best draft classes in the history of the NFL. Taylor and Nitschke made it to Canton and so should Kramer.
Kramer was All-Pro six 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 three field goals. The three 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 one-two 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 mud bath. 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 then another, as the “Golden Boy” scored.
Then there was the Ice Bowl in 1967. The Packers had to drive 68 yards with only 4:50 remaining, trailing 17-14. The playing surface that day truly was a frozen tundra, as the game time temperature was 13 below zero. It came down to this…13 seconds to go…no timeouts…at the 1-yard line of the Dallas Cowboys. If the Packers run the ball and are stopped short, it is over. Starr, of course, scored on a QB sneak.
Starr 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.
Here is the bottom line. The power sweep was the signature play for Vince Lombardi and his Packers. Kramer was a key component of its success. The final drive of the “Ice Bowl” was the signature series of the Lombardi Packers and cemented their legacy. Kramer again, had a huge role in that. The Bart Starr quarterback sneak in the “Ice Bowl” was led by the signature block of the Lombardi era. To many, the greatest block in NFL history. It was Jerry Kramer that made that block.
Shortly after I wrote the story about all the Hall of Famers who have endorsed Kramer for the Hall himself, Randy Simon, received a phone call from Bart Starr to talk about Kramer and the Hall of Fame shun that is ongoing and the efforts Starr has made on Kramer's behalf.
More endorsements keep coming as well. Hall of Famers like Tom Mack, Lem Barney, Jack Youngblood, Dave Wilcox, Jim Kelly and Lenny Moore have all added their voices regarding Kramer's proper enshrinement in Canton.
Later this month, the Seniors Committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce the two senior candidates for the Class of 2013 for the Hall.
I sure hope the committee is listening to the onslaught of Hall of Fame endorsements regarding Jerry Kramer. They should be, that's for sure.