NFL Legends: Jerry Kramer
"Jerry Kramer did not know how good he was when he first joined the Green Bay Packers. You'd be surprised how much confidence a little success will bring." —Vince Lombardi
When you think of Hall of Fame guards, very few come to mind. The first that jumps out is Gene Upshaw of the Oakland Raiders, not just because he was a great guard, but because he was president of the National Football League Players' Association until he died earlier this year. His initials, GU, are imprinted on all the players' helmets this year.
However, when I think of great guards, I think of Jerry Kramer.
Who is Jerry Kramer? Well, every cheesehead out there would know, but for those of you who think I put the names of two characters of Seinfeld together, let me assure you that Jerry Kramer is a real person.
When you look at Green Bay's success in the 1960s, you can't mention Ray Nitschke, Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, or Paul Hornung and leave out Jerry Kramer. He is the perfect prototype of a right guard.
Jerry Kramer was the most relevant part of the Packer sweep. The Packer sweep is where both guards leave their position and go off to the side and block for the running back. Jerry Kramer used this key move in the Ice Bowl (1967 NFL Championship Game), where Bart Starr went over the goal line behind Kramer to beat the Dallas Cowboys.
Kramer's speed and size allowed him to effectively protect the running back in the sweep. He was an amazing player and very versatile, too.
He functioned as a place kicker for the Packers in 1962, 1963, and part of 1968. He kicked the winning field goal in the 1962 NFL Championship game against the Giants.
I don't know how he is not in the Hall of Fame. I know that he is no longer a modern era candidate, but it doesn't explain why his name hasn't been put up for emplacement in Canton, Ohio as a senior nominee.
I know the Packers have 26 members in the hall of fame, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't go in as No. 27.
Perhaps it's the fact that he played the guard position. The Baseball Hall of Fame is easier to judge, because you can get almost any stat you want. The NFL, however, is still trying to figure out a stat for a guard.
Maybe it is the fact that 10 of his teammates during the 1960s are already in the Hall of Fame. I think that argument is rather silly really. In the '60s, there weren't nearly as many teams, so there could be four or five Hall of Famers on each team.
The main question is: Does he belong there? Forget who his teammates were, does he deserve it? Does he fit the criteria necessary for the Hall of Fame?
I think he does, and I think every person with a yellow and green jersey will agree with me. Almost every team has at least one player that has been snubbed by the Hall of Fame.
Jerry Kramer is easily that player for the Packers. He was on the NFL's 50th anniversary team's guard, and everyone on that team is in the Hall of Fame except for him. That is just unbelievable.
To conclude my opinion on how the Hall of Fame is keeping Jerry Kramer locked out, I will have to quote Vince Lombardi once more.
"What the hell's going on out here?!"
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