Two Who Will Never Make It Into the Hall of Fame
The Green Bay Packers from the Lombardi Era are reknown for the number of players who have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Forrest Gregg made the 75th Anniversary team, together with Ray Nitschke. Bart Starr, Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor; Herb Adderly, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Jim Ringo, Emlen Tunnell and Willie Wood are all in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame. It is hard to believe that with eleven men plus their coach enshrined, that there could be two more men who probably would be in the Hall of Fame but for the teammates ahead of them: Jerry Kramer and Fred (Fuzzy) Thurston.
Kramer and Thurston played together as pulling guards for the Packers from 1959 until 1967. Thurston played for the champion Baltimore Colts in 1958 before joining the Pack and retired one year before Kramer. They played on an offensive line with Jim Ringo and Forrest Gregg, and when Ringo left, they clearly did not miss a beat in replacing his speed and downfield blocking. They are regarded as two of the most famous guard combinations in the NFL.
Kramer and Thurston led the famed Packer, or Power Sweep that was led by the two pulling guards. Clearly, Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung were better runners as a result of the skilled men who led the way.
Kramer provided Coach Lombardi with the play in the Ice Bowl that won the game for the Pack over the Dallas Cowboys. During a review of film, Kramer noted that the Cowboy defensive lineman opposite him, Jethro Pugh, would stand up on the goal line. He assured Lombardi that he could get under him and push him out of the way, clearing the way for his quarterback. After a Packer timeout on the one yard line with 16 seconds remaining, Lombardi called the play that Kramer had talked about during their video session. Pugh to this day says that Kramer left before the snap, but just as Kramer described it, Pugh was standing upright when Kramer knocked him back and Starr followed over Kramer’s prostrate body into the end zone for the victory.
Fuzzy loved the game and to this day, operates a bar in Green Bay, “Fuzzy’s” on Mason Street, where he will converse with anybody about that team and its players. Fuzzy’s famous line when asked what he did to prepare for it, “I drank 12 vodkas”, reveals the kind of humor he has. He was so fearful of Lombardi that he never would have had one before a game, let alone 12!
Both guards are in the Packer Hall of Fame, where they are considered equally deserving as the more famous men who have played for Green Bay. Fuzzy says, “It’s such an honor to be a Green Bay Packer, and I cherish that every day of my life.”