I’m a Jerry’s Kid

I first learned about the Green Bay Packers dynasty of Vince Lombardi in the mid-1980s. I learned the names of the stars of the team which won five NFL championships and two Super Bowls between 1961 and 1967: Starr, Hornung, Taylor (the most important for those growing up in Louisiana), Nitschke, Davis, Adderley, et. al.

And of course, the right guard leading Hornung and Taylor on the power sweep, #64, Jerry Kramer.

Kramer is by far the most famous athletic graduate from the University of Idaho. If you think it’s anywhere near Boise State (or Idaho State for that matter), think again. It’s way, up in Moscow, in the northern panhandle. It’s only 8 miles from Washington State (the university in Pullman). It’s in the Pacific Time Zone for crying out loud.

Kramer played 11 seasons for the Packers. In 1964, he nearly died due to actinomyosis, a bacterial disease which produces large abscesses in the mouth, lungs and intestines, and those abscesses can break open and spill pus filled with bacteria all over the body. He recovered and played four seasons after that, helping Green Bay win the NFL championship in 1965, then Super Bowls I and II the next two seasons.

In 1969, Kramer was voted as one of the guards on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team. He finished his career as a five-time first team All-Pro, and he was a second team All-Pro in 1968, his final season, despite playing on a 6-7-1 Packers team under Phil Bengston, who succeeded Lombardi as coach (Lombardi remained as general manager in Green Bay in 1968 before taking over as Redskins coach in 1969. He would be dead of colon cancer before the 1970 season began.).

Eleven of Kramer’s teammates–Starr, Hornung, Taylor, Nitschke, Adderley, Willie Wood, Jim Ringo, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Forrest Gregg and Dave Robinson–are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Why the hell is Gerald Louis Kramer not in the Hall of Fame?

Shame on you, PFHOF voters. You have kept this deserving man out of the hall longer than I have been alive! Kramer’s first year of eligibility was 1974. Okay, maybe he didn’t deserve to be inducted on the first or second ballot, but why was he not in by the late 1970s, by which time Taylor, Gregg and Starr were all inducted? Certainly he should have been in by 1984, the year Gregg succeeded Starr as Packers coach.

The seniors’ committee has been in charge of Kramer’s nomination since 1989. What the hell?

Let’s not forget Kramer was not only the leader of the famed and feared Green Bay Sweep, but he was also an accomplished author, writing Instant Replay, his diary of the 1967 season, and Distant Replay, which was a 1985 update on the Packers who played in Super Bowl I.

Also, Kramer could do more than block on the football field. In the 1962 NFL championship game, Kramer kicked three field goals despite 35-mile per hour winds swirling around Yankee Stadium, which dropped the wind chill to zero. Hornung, the regular kicker, had a sore leg, and Lombardi pressed Kramer into duty. As it turned out, those three field goals were the difference in the Packers’ 16-7 win over the Giants, capping a remarkable season in which Green Bay outscored its foes 431-155 and lost only once–at Detroit on Thanksgiving–in 15 games.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame website lists 44 offensive linemen (tackles, guards and centers) who played in the modern era (post-1950) in the Hall of Fame.

I look at some of the guards on the list, and wonder why the hell Kramer isn’t in, yet they are.

I can live with John Hannah in the Hall. I watched him play late in his career with the Patriots, and he was still as effective as ever. He may be the only one on the list who was better than Kramer.

Gene Upshaw? Didn’t care for him as NFLPA president, but no doubt he was a great one with the Raiders.

Larry Little? If he’s in the Hall, Kramer has to be. He was helped playing next to Hall of Fame center Jim Langer, and another guard who deserves serious consideration, Bob Kuechenberg.

But Joe DeLamielleure in ahead of Kramer? NO. NO. NO. He made his name off of blocking for O.J. Simpson in Buffalo. He blocked for Brian Sipe in Cleveland when he was the NFL’s MVP in 1980, but I can’t really think of much else which distinguishes him ahead of Kramer.

Tom Mack in ahead of Kramer? NO. He was helped playing with a tremendous unit, including Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater in the final years of his career with the Rams.

Billy Shaw in ahead of Kramer? PLEASE. Other than the Bills’ back-to-back AFL championships of 1964 and 1965, not much else I can think of which would make him more worthy than Kramer.

Russ Grimm in ahead of Kramer? It’s all because he played for The Hogs, who became notorious for blocking for two of football’s biggest hams, Joe Theismann and John Riggins. Yes, the Redskins won three Super Bowls with Grimm up front, but if Grimm is in, why isn’t left tackle Joe Jacoby?

To me, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is not complete until Mr. Kramer has a bust in Canton. Voters, do it in 2017 so he can enjoy this honor while he’s still alive.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on August 7, 2016, in National Football League, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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