Looking Forward to Brett & Jerry's Enshrinement at Canton in 2016

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Looking Forward to Brett & Jerry's Enshrinement at Canton in 2016

If you like Ben and Jerry's ice cream and are a fan of the Green Bay Packers, you would absolutely love it if both Brett Favre and Jerry Kramer are part of the 2016 induction class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Perhaps that will indeed happen. At least we know one of those players will be enshrined.

Favre is an absolute lock to get inducted, while Kramer should have been given the same honor decades ago.

Kramer was passed over yet again by the Senior Selection Committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week when the committee named Mick Tingelhoff of the Minnesota Vikings as their lone senior nominee for 2015.

While I believe Tingelhoff is a worthy candidate for having a bust in Canton, his accomplishments in the NFL do not match those of Kramer.

It's fairly easy to compare Kramer and Tingelhoff, as they played pretty much in the same era.

Both Kramer and Tingelhoff were five-time AP first-team All-Pros. But Kramer did that in a 10-year career, while the former Viking center did that over 16 years.

Tingelhoff was named to six Pro Bowl teams, while Kramer was named to three.

However, Kramer missed part of the 1961 season due to a broken ankle and missed most of the 1964 season because of an intestinal illness. Plus, in 1965, Kramer had to slowly work himself back into shape, as his weight had dropped to 220 pounds due to the intestinal ailment for which he had nine operations.

Had Kramer been able to play to his full capabilities during those seasons, No. 64 would have had even more All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.

Bottom line, Kramer was named to the first team for the All-Decade team in the 1960s, while Tingelhoff was on the second team.

The icing on the cake was when Kramer was named to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary team.  Jerry is the only member of that squad not currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But the biggest thing that separates Kramer and Tingelhoff is the amount of championships that their teams won.

Kramer played on teams that won five NFL championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls. Plus, Kramer played a big role in a number of those championship games.

Associated Press

Tingelhoff played center on four teams that made it to the Super Bowl. In each case, the Vikings did not play well, especially on offense. Minnesota was outscored 95-34 in those four Super Bowl games. You can't expect to win the biggest game of them all when your offense averages a little more than a touchdown per game.

Meanwhile, Kramer and his teammates shined under head coach Vince Lombardi in the postseason.

In the 1962 NFL title game played at frigid and windy Yankee Stadium, Kramer doubled as a right guard and a kicker as the Packers defeated the New York Giants 16-7.

The difference in the game were the three field goals Kramer made on a day in which it was very difficult to kick. Some wind gusts were over 40 mph during the contest.

In the 1965 NFL title game played at snowy and muddy Lambeau Field versus the Cleveland Browns, Kramer and the rest of the offensive line of the Packers completely dominated the Browns in the running game.

The signature play of the Packers, the power sweep, was particularly effective. The Packers ending up rushing for 204 yards behind Jimmy Taylor and Paul Hornung as the Packers won 23-12. This was while the great Jimmy Brown was held to 50 yards rushing by the Packers defense.

The last touchdown of the game was scored by Hornung on a power sweep. Kramer pulled left and first blocked the middle linebacker and then a cornerback as the "Golden Boy" found the end zone.

Then there was the 1967 NFL title game played on New Year's Eve at Lambeau Field. The game is better known as the "Ice Bowl."

The playing surface that day was definitely a frozen tundra, as the game-time temperature was 13 below zero.

In the closing moments of the game, the Packers had to drive 68 yards down the field to either tie or win the game.

It all came down to 13 seconds to go with no timeouts at the 1-yard line of the Cowboys. The Packers could have kicked a field goal at that point to tie the game at 17-17.

But Lombardi decided to go for the win. If the Packers run the ball and are stopped short, the game is over.

Starr called a 31-wedge play in the huddle, which calls for the fullback to get the ball. However, Starr decided to keep the ball after discussing the play with Lombardi on the sideline.

Starr thought it would be better to try and get into the end zone himself due to the slippery and icy conditions near the goal line.

Uncredited/Associated Press

Starr followed Kramer's classic block on Jethro Pugh, and he found a hole behind No. 64 to score the winning touchdown.

Now don't get me wrong, I believe Tingelhoff has the credentials to get into Canton, but not over someone like Kramer.

Over the past couple of years, I've been able to talk with both Rick Gosselin and Ron Borges, who are on the Senior Selection Committee. Both Gosselin and Borges believe that Kramer deserves induction into the Hall of Fame, but the one thing I kept hearing from both of them is that the timing has to be right.

Well, the timing couldn't be more perfect than in 2016. It would be the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl I. The very first Super Bowl game in which Kramer and the Packers were victors.

The Green Bay coach was Vince Lombardi. You know, the fellow that has his name on the Super Bowl trophy.

In addition to all that, Brett and Jerry would be inducted into the Hall of Fame together.

Kramer and Favre are good friends. Recently, Favre came out with his support of Kramer for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as CheeseheadTV.com reported back in July:

We all know what a great honor it would be, being remembered for your career in the NFL by getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. There, the walls are adorned with the busts of some of the greatest athletes to ever take the field. However, in my opinion there’s one man whose presence there has been overdue for some time now; I’m talking about Jerry Kramer. His worthiness of a spot in this ring of honor speaks volumes; besides class and integrity his resume is very impressive. In his career with the Green Bay Packers, under the legendary Coach Vince Lombardi, as a right guard from 1958-1968, he played a pivotal role in the Packers 5 NFL Championships in only 7 years. In addition to that he was also named to the Pro Bowl 3 times, is a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, a five-time First Team All-Pro selection, and a two-time Super Bowl Champion! Please help me make a stand, and show your support for NFL and Green Bay Packers great, Jerry Kramer!

A couple of years ago during one of my many conversations with Kramer over the years, Jerry talked about Favre and how he ending up leaving the Packers:

"When we got rid of Brett, I was pretty upset. I let everybody know that I was upset and that Ted Thompson was a village idiot. I mean we were one pass from the championship. I just went ballistic on him and probably overdid it a bit, but I was frustrated as I saw us get so close. And I knew we didn’t get that close very often and I was very frustrated.
"I watched Aaron pretty closely after that, as I just couldn’t imagine that another great quarterback would be able to follow another great quarterback. I just didn’t think it was possible. So I busted Mr. Thompson’s ass quite thoroughly at a number of different times and places. But then I saw what Aaron could do, especially in his breakout year in 2009. I remember being out in Phoenix last year as the Packers were getting ready for a playoff game that we eventually lost. Anyway, somebody called and asked if I wanted to hang out with the Packers for a little bit, and I said 'Hell yeah.'
"Mark Murphy was there, and he was very aware of my mouth flapping pretty wildly (speaking of Thompson and the Favre departure), and I told Mark that I had been watching Aaron closely and I had something to tell Ted Thompson. I told Mark to tell Ted something for me. Mark kind of drew back a little bit, and he said 'What’s that Jerry?' You tell Ted, 'Oh…that’s what you were thinking' (speaking of the play of Rodgers). I just couldn’t believe that Aaron would be that good and that young. But I’m so impressed with him, not only with the way he handled that mess with Brett, but also with his play since then. He has done everything you could ask of him and then some."

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

That situation with Favre and the Packers is much better now. Favre announced on his website that he will be returning to Green Bay in 2015 for induction into the Packers Hall of Fame and the retirement of his jersey number (No. 4).

That should be a great time for all fans of the Packers.

But that would certainly be trumped by having both Favre and Kramer being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the same year (2016).

Favre is not the only great player who has endorsed Kramer for the Hall of Fame. Randy Simon has put together a great book in which a number of players now enshrined in Canton believe that Jerry should be there too.

One of whom is Merlin Olsen, who played with the Los Angeles Rams.

Olsen is considered by many to be the best defensive tackle of all time. Olsen went to 14 Pro Bowls, which is the all-time NFL record shared by Bruce Matthews, the uncle of Clay Matthews of the Packers.

Olsen was named AP All-Pro nine times in his career as well.

In his endorsement of Kramer to the Hall, Olsen says:

There is no question in my mind that Jerry Kramer has Hall of Fame credentials. Respect is given grudgingly in the trenches of the NFL and Jerry has 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 and I hope you will put this process in motion by including his name on the ballot for this coming year.

One of the many other endorsements came from Bart Starr, no matter what you may have read in Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column he wrote for Sports Illustrated this past Monday.

In putting together the great endorsement book for Kramer, Simon had an opportunity to speak with Starr. Simon wrote an article about the 15 minute conversation he had with No. 15, in which Starr told Simon that he had been sending letters to the Hall of Fame voters for several years endorsing Kramer’s nomination.

Here is the bottom line: Jerry Kramer should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It should have happened decades ago. Yes, Kramer was a Hall of Fame finalist nine times before the only time he was a senior nominee in 1997, but for some unknown reason he has never been inducted.

It's definitely a wrong that needs to be righted.

And the timing couldn't be better than in 2016, when No. 64 and No. 4 can both be part of the same induction class.

Let's do the math: 64 divided by 4 equals 16.

Just imagine what Canton would look like. There would be Green and Gold everywhere. Two glorious eras of the Packers would be honored, and two different generations of Packer Nation would be on hand.

In fact, I'll bet that Canton will never have a better-attended induction ceremony than the one in 2016 if Kramer and Favre were enshrined together.

Again, the timing will never be better.

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