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Addressing Cliff Christl's Story About Why Jerry Kramer Isn't in Canton

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Addressing Cliff Christl's Story About Why Jerry Kramer Isn't in Canton
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Cliff Christl of Packers.com wrote an interesting article last weekend that talked about why right guard Jerry Kramer is not yet in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Since I have written several articles about this subject myself, I thought I would address the three main points about why Jerry is not in Canton, at least according to what Christl has heard through the grapevine as the Green Bay voting representative at the Hall of Fame.

The three points are:

1) Too many Lombardi-era Packers are already in the Hall of Fame.

2) Kramer may have struggled against Merlin Olsen and Alex Karras.

3) Kramer may not be the best Lombardi-era offensive linemen not in the Hall of Fame.

I wrote my most recent article about the injustice of Kramer not being inducted into the Hall of Fame last August after it was announced that Jerry would not be among the two senior candidates nominated by the Seniors Committee for 2014.

Here now is my response to the points that Cliff mentioned in his story about why No. 64 is not in the Hall of Fame.

1) Jerry was a key ingredient on the Lombardi-era Packer teams. He was a five-time All-Pro who also went to the Pro Bowl three times, and his play in the postseason was fabulous.

He doubled as right guard and kicker in the 1962 NFL title game against the New York Giants in frigid and blustery Yankee Stadium. The three field goals he kicked were the difference in the game, which the Packers won 16-7.

In the 1965 NFL title game versus the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field, Jerry and the rest of the offensive line helped the running game of the Packers gain over 200 yards. The power sweep was especially effective.

The one block I'll always remember was when Jerry pulled on a left power sweep and blocked a linebacker and then a defensive back, allowing Paul Hornung to score his last championship game touchdown for the Packers. Green Bay won this game 23-12.

In the 1967 NFL title game against the Dallas Cowboys, better known as the "Ice Bowl," Kramer made the most famous block in NFL history when he got underneath defensive tackle Jethro Pugh on a play called "31 Wedge."

Uncredited

Quarterback Bart Starr tumbled into the end zone behind Kramer's block for the game-winning score from the 1-yard line with just seconds to go in the game. The Packers won 21-17.

Bottom line, the signature play of those great Lombardi teams that won five NFL championships (including the first two Super Bowls) in seven years was the power sweep. Kramer obviously played a large part in the success of that play.

The block that Kramer executed in the waning seconds of the "Ice Bowl" was the signature moment of the Lombardi era.

Also, if not for injury and illness, Kramer would have been named to even more All-Pro teams and gone to more Pro Bowls.

As it was, Jerry was named as the best guard on the NFL's 50th Anniversary Team in 1969. Kramer is the only member of that team who has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

2) Both Merlin Olsen and Alex Karras endorsed Jerry for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This is what Olsen said about why Kramer belongs in Canton: "Jerry earned my respect as we battled eye to eye in the pits on so many long afternoons. Jerry Kramer belongs in the Hall of Fame."

Olsen is considered by many to be the best defensive tackle in NFL history.

Karras said this about why Kramer should be included among those in the Hall of Fame:

As you know Vince Lombardi was in fact a great coach and won so many games. The reason Lombardi had such an outstanding record was due to the players; Jimmy Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo and Paul Hornung.

With all the players listed above someone has been left out. But, why? Jerry Kramer is one player that should never be forgotten. The "best" pulling guard in his time.

Let's don't pass him up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, just because he played with so many greats. Jerry made them all better.

LJG

You can read all of the endorsements that Jerry has received from dozens of Hall of Fame members in this great book compiled by Randy Simon.

3) Fuzzy Thurston was an excellent left guard for the Packers. In his career, Fuzzy was an AP All-Pro once, but he unbelievably never went to a Pro Bowl. Bob Skoronski was a solid left tackle in Green Bay but was never All-Pro and only went to one Pro Bowl.

In terms of Bart Starr endorsing Skoronski for his place in Canton, we know that Starr has also endorsed Kramer for a number of years to Hall of Fame voters based on a conversation he had with Simon in 2012.

Gale Gillingham did have a Hall of Fame career in my opinion. He was All-Pro a number of times and went to five Pro Bowls. Most of that was done after Vince Lombardi left Green Bay after the 1968 season.

As much as Gale deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jerry needs to get in first for all he has accomplished, much of which was done well before Gillingham became a starter in 1967.

Now to the task at hand.

As Cliff said in his article, he is not a member of the Seniors Committee. But even though that is the current situation, I'm sure he has tried to state the case that the induction of Kramer is long overdue.

After having conversations with them, I know for a fact that at least two of the members of the Seniors Committee, Rick Gosselin and Ron Borges, are big advocates of Jerry being inducted.

The key is to get all the other members of that committee to agree on that important issue.

This is what Gosselin said when he was interviewed by Vic Ketchman from Packers.com in a video last summer:

Kramer has a shot (to get into the Hall of Fame). I think it's the biggest injustice in the Hall right now. This guy was picked as the best guard of the first 50 years of the NFL, and he's the only guy on that team that's not in the Hall of Fame. This is an oversight that needs to be fixed.

Just getting nominated as a senior is not an easy process. There are around 100 candidates right now who will be whittled down to 15 when the Seniors Committee meets again in August. From there, the committee has to nominate just two senior candidates.

Anonymous

If Jerry is nominated, then voters like Christl have to make the rounds and talk to other voters about why Kramer needs to be given a bust in Canton when the final vote is taken on the Saturday before the Super Bowl.

Cliff is an exceptional writer, and he has covered the Packers for a long, long time. A knowledgeable, veteran voice like his will help get the rightful enshrinement of Kramer to become a reality.

I had a chance to talk with Kramer on Tuesday about this situation. Here is his take on still not being inducted into the Hall of Fame:

"It's not that I wouldn't like to be in. That's obvious. But it's just hard to really b---h about things when the game has been so good to me. I'm still getting applause and accolades from the game.

"I just can't really get pissed about it. It's been a hell of a ride. It's been a wonderful experience and it's still continuing into my dotage. We can't be too unhappy."

It's very admirable and commendable that Jerry has this type of attitude about his continued omission from the Hall of Fame.

But the bottom line is that Kramer should have been inducted decades ago.

It's time now to finally do the right thing: that would be the appropriate induction of Gerald Louis Kramer into the Pro Football Hall of Fame without any hesitation or excuses.

 

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