A Scout’s Take on Rookie Cornerback Quinten Rollins of the Green Bay Packers

It’s been awhile, but I was able to talk with NFL scout Chris Landry again this week on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show.

When I wrote for Bleacher Report, I talked to Landry just about every week to get his insight on various topics, usually regarding the Green Bay Packers.

But back in May, Landry underwent an aortic valve replacement and bypass procedure. Fortunately the procedure was a success and after some time off to recuperate, Landry is back on the air.

Plus, Landry operates a great website called LandryFootball.com where one can get inside information on how coaches, scouts and front office staff evaluate the players on their team.

One of the topics I wanted to discuss with Chris was the great play that rookie cornerback Quinten Rollins has exhibited so far this summer.

Landry had given me some insight on Rollins earlier this year before the draft and I wrote an article about that discussion.

Chris has always been very insightful with me in our discussions, and that is why I have had some success predicting who the Packers would take in the NFL draft.

This year was no exception, as I correctly predicted that the Packers would select not only Rollins, but also linebacker Jake Ryan.

Yes, sometimes a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

This week I mentioned to Landry that Rollins has had a very nice training camp thus far with the Packers, as has undrafted rookie cornerback LaDarius Gunter.

Landry was more than happy to talk about the two young corners that the Packers have added to their roster, along with first round draft pick Damarious Randall, who also has had success this summer at camp.

“I would love to,” Landry said speaking of Gunter and Rollins. “Gunter is a physical press corner who is the type of guy that [Dom] Capers likes.

“One of my best friends, who is a PGA pro, he’s my golf teacher actually, is from Wisconsin and from Green Bay. He’s a big Packer fan. He’s a LSU grad and he came down to LSU for school. Long-story-short, he was apoplectic about the draft, like ‘How could they draft this guy who has only played one year of football. He’s a basketball player!’

“I said to just watch, this guy can play. In fact, he’s got tremendous upside. When you come in the MAC conference and you are the Defensive Player of the Year and you’ve not played football, that says a lot!

“This rascal can turn and flip his hips and run. I’m not surprised that he has done a good job for them [the Packers]. And as good as he looks, I think he only gets better. Because as he starts to understand, which he has a very little clue about at this point, of understanding route concepts, understanding the nuances of coverages, just imagine.

“I mean, the physical skills are there. Once he’s able to improve his technique and have a better understanding about how to play, I think they [the Packers] got themselves a really good player.

“When I’ve broken him down the past couple of weeks, he has been nothing short of outstanding. One of the more impressive rookies who I have seen.”

That is some high praise for Rollins coming from Landry. When the Packers lost both Tramon Williams and Davon House to free agency, there was certainly concern about how the cornerback position would be affected.

After the loss of Williams and House, the Packers only had two veterans to man the position, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward, along with first-year player Demetri Goodson.

Now with the addition of Rollins, Randall and Gunter, a perceived weakness may now become a strength for the Packers in 2015.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Willie Wood

When one looks back on the defensive backfield for the Green Bay Packers for a number of years in the 1960s, they would have seen three players who were primarily offensive players in college.

Cornerbacks Herb Adderley and Bob Jeter were running backs at Michigan State and Iowa respectively, while safety Willie Wood was a quarterback at USC.

It was truly amazing that the coaching staff was able to see that their talents would help the Packers a lot more on the defensive side of the ball.

When it was all said and done, the three defensive backs combined for 115 interceptions with the Packers, with 11 of them run back for touchdowns.

Between Adderley, Jeter and Wood, the three were named first team All-Pro 10 times and went to 15 Pro Bowls.

Not bad for a couple of running backs and a quarterback in college.

At least Adderley and Jeter were drafted, as both were high draft picks for the Packers.

Wood was not drafted at all in 1960 and he sent out postcards to teams asking for a tryout. Luckily the Packers brought him in and No. 24 made the team.

Willie learned the craft of safety from a future Hall of Famer named Emlen Tunnell.

One of the first trades that Vince Lombardi made in 1959 was to bring Tunnell over to the Packers from the New York Giants, where Lombardi had been an assistant coach from 1954 through 1958.

Wood sat on the bench in 1960, but by 1961 was a starter. Wood had five interceptions that season for the Packers, plus led the NFL in punt returns with a 16.1 average and two touchdowns.

It was the start of a great career for Wood with the Packers, as he ended up with 48 career interceptions (two for touchdowns), plus was the primary punt returner for the team as well.

Wood was named first-team All-Pro five times and was also named to eight Pro Bowls. No. 24 was also named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s.

Wood was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, after being a finalist nine times prior to that.

Sounds a lot like Jerry Kramer, who was also a finalist nine times from 1974 through 1987. Like Wood, Kramer certainly has earned a bust in Canton with his play on the football field. Unlike Wood, Kramer has not yet been enshrined for some puzzling reason.

Speaking of Kramer, I had an opportunity to talk to No. 64 recently about Mr. Wood.

Kramer talked about the meetings that the offensive and defensive units would have.

In one room, Lombardi would run the offensive meeting and he would do his fair share of yelling and screaming as he kept running the film over and over again pointing out the flaws of a given play.

While this was going on, Kramer would often hear laughter coming from the room where the defense was meeting with assistant coach Phil Bengtson.

Kramer talked about a conversation he had with linebacker Ray Nitschke about the differences between the two meetings.

“I told Ray that I wish you guys could change rooms with us one day and let Lombardi chew your ass,” Kramer said. “Ray said, ‘We don’t have anything like that, but I hate the look I get from Wood after I miss a tackle on film. Willie has mean eyes. If you miss a tackle, Willie will look at you with really mean eyes.’

Kramer continued to talk about No. 24 and what he meant to the Packers.

“Willie was a tremendous competitor,” Kramer said. “Wood was a real knowledgeable ball player. Because he was a quarterback at USC, he was much more aware of the offensive patterns that would be coming at him as a safety.

“I think it’s a similar situation with Randall Cobb today. Randall is a sensational receiver and I think a large part of that was because he was a quarterback at Kentucky for a while. He understands the mind of a quarterback. So did Willie.

“So Willie was very knowledgeable player, plus he hit you with every ounce of energy he had. He could really bring it. Willie was known for really whaling guys. And because he was such a good athlete, he was always in the proper position at the proper speed to really deliver a blow.

“Willie was just a wonderful ball player. He would surprise some people because he wasn’t that big (5’10”, 190 pounds). But he had great physical ability, as he could dunk a football over the crossbar of the goal post.”

Kramer then talked about the throwing contests that Wood and Nitschke would have, as they both had played quarterback at some point in their football careers.

“Willie and Ray would get in a passing contest,” Kramer said. “They would both throw the ball in the 80-yard neighborhood. Wood would throw it maybe 80 and Nitschke would throw it around 85 yards. Both had incredible arms.”

Wood played on five NFL title teams with the Packers, including the first two Super Bowl winners. It was Wood who made the game-changing play in Super Bowl I, when the Packers were clinging to a 14-10 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs early in the third quarter.

Wood picked off an errant Len Dawson pass and went 50 yards downfield to set up a five-yard touchdown run by Elijah Pitts, as the Packers went on to win by a very comfortable 35-10 margin to win the very first Super Bowl.

No. 24 played a key role in that victory.

Jerry Kramer Has To Wait Another Year For Enshrinement Into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Bart's QB sneak behind Jerry

The saga about Jerry Kramer not being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is starting to sound like a broken record.

The former great Green Bay Packers star was once again shunned by the Senior Selection Committee of the Hall of Fame yesterday, as the committee instead nominated Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel as their two senior nominees for possible induction into Canton.

Let me be clear, both Stabler and Stanfel are deserving of being nominated, but neither deserves the honor more than Gerald Louis Kramer.

Yes, I also know that both Stabler and Stanfel passed away recently and I’m sure that played a sentimental role in the voting process.

It should also be noted that Stanfel was named as a senior nominee as recently as 2012, but he did not get the final votes necessary for induction.

All you have to do is just look at the pro football resumé that Kramer has put out and compare it to Stabler and Stanfel, as well as the other recent senior nominees for the past few years.

There is absolutely no doubt that Kramer deserves to be in Canton more than any other senior candidate.

Listen, I know the seniors committee has a tough job. There are a number of well deserving senior candidates that the committee has to look at each year. The list starts at 90 players, then is whittled down to 15. After that, the committee has to finally choose just two nominees (and only one senior nominee in 2016).

Some NFL teams have never had a player from their franchise ever get nominated by the seniors committee.

One of the things I keep hearing is that Kramer has already been a finalist 10 times. That being said, nine of those 10 times occurred between a period of 1974 and 1987.

Among the current voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, how many were voters during that time frame? Few, if any, in my estimation.

So, why didn’t Kramer get in the Hall of Fame in the 1970s or 80s? That’s hard to figure out. Just the fact that he was a Hall of Fame finalist nine times tells you that he was a tremendous player.

There may have been some voters at the time who had a vendetta or grudge against Kramer for some reason. Why? I have no idea. I certainly hope that wasn’t the case.

Just look at Kramer’s career with the Packers. No. 64 was a five-time All-Pro and named to three Pro Bowls. He was also on the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s.

Jerry was also a member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team in 1969. Kramer is the only member of the first team not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Kramer was also on five Green Bay Packer teams which won NFL titles, including the first two Super Bowls, under head coach Vince Lombardi. The Packers won it all in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967.

Jerry in the '65 title game

Kramer was a big contributor to those title teams, especially at crunch time in the postseason.

As I noted in a recent story about why Kramer is deserving of getting a bust in Canton, No. 64 had some of his best moments on the championship stage;

In the 1962 NFL Championship Game versus the New York Giants at cold and windy Yankee Stadium, Jerry doubled as a right guard and as placekicker. Jerry booted three field goals on a very difficult day to kick, as some wind gusts were over 40 mph during the contest.

Kramer scored 10 points in the 16-7 victory for the Packers, plus helped lead the way for fullback Jimmy Taylor to gain 85 yards rushing and also score the lone Green Bay touchdown. As a team, the Packers gained 148 yards rushing that day.

In the 1965 NFL Championship Game versus the Cleveland Browns at snowy and muddy Lambeau Field, Kramer and his teammates on the offensive line had a sensational day.

The Packers rushed for 204 yards behind Taylor and halfback Paul Hornung, as the Pack won 23-12. The power sweep was especially effective, as Kramer and fellow guard Fuzzy Thurston kept opening big holes for the backs, mowing down defenders so the Packers gained big chunks of yardage on the ground.

Hornung scored the last touchdown of the game on one of those power sweeps. Kramer pulled left and first blocked the middle linebacker and then a cornerback as the “Golden Boy” found the end zone.

In the 1967 NFL Championship Game (better known as the “Ice Bowl”) versus the Dallas Cowboys at frigid Lambeau Field, Kramer made the most famous block in the history of the NFL.

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

In the closing moments of the game, down by a score of 17-14,  the Packers had to drive 68 yards down the frozen 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 coach Lombardi decided to go for the win. If the Packers run the ball and are stopped short of the end zone, 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 conferring with Lombardi on the sideline about the play.

Starr thought it would be better to try to get into the end zone himself due to the slippery and icy conditions near the goal line. He followed Kramer’s classic block on Jethro Pugh and found a hole behind No. 64 to score the winning touchdown.

When one looks back on the great success of the Lombardi Packers of the 1960s, there are two things about that era which are pretty obvious.

The power sweep was the signature play for the Packers under Lombardi. Plus, Starr’s quarterback sneak with just seconds remaining in the “Ice Bowl”, had to be the signature moment of the Lombardi legacy.

Vince and Jerry II

Jerry Kramer played a huge role in both of those instances.

Kramer was also a senior nominee back in 1997, but he didn’t get the votes necessary to be inducted by all the voters. But that was 18 years ago.

At any rate, it’s very perplexing as to why Kramer is not in Canton. Not just to people like myself, but to Kramer’s peers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Randy Simon has put together a great book that shows how many players now enshrined in Canton believe Jerry should be there too.

All of the endorsements are great, which includes players like Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Willie Davis, Frank Gifford, Chuck Bednarik, Bob Lilly, Doug Atkins, Alan Page, Joe Schmidt, John Mackey, Raymond Berry, Mel Renfro, Mike Ditka, Jim Otto, Tom Mack, Dave Wilcox, Tommy McDonald and Lem Barney.

All of these Hall of Famers were Kramer’s contemporaries.

But the biggest endorsement Kramer ever received was by a player Kramer fought with in the trenches on a number of occasions. I’m speaking of Merlin Olsen of 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.”

Jerry on a knee

Still, Kramer continues to wait for his rightful enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Why? Again, it’s hard to determine. I know for a fact that both Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News and Ron Borges of the Boston Herald are big advocates of Kramer getting into the Hall, and both are on the Senior Select Committee.

But what about the other members of that committee? That is a question which I hope to get answered over the next few months.

I plan to reach out to Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, John Czarnecki of FoxSports.com, Ira Miller of The Sports Xchange, Jeff Legwold of ESPN/ESPN.com and Frank Cooney of The Sports Xchange. I want to find out where they stand regarding Kramer’s Hall of Fame status.

Jerry Kramer will turn 80 years-old in January of 2016. Kramer has waited far too long for an honor which he should have received decades ago.

The seniors committee has had a chance to right a wrong for a number of years now. They still haven’t.

Gosselin himself recently wrote this in one of his chats with his readers, “I think Jerry Kramer is the biggest oversight in Canton — if only for the fact that the Hall of Fame selection committee voted him the best guard in the first 50 years of the NFL. Yet he’s gone before that committee something like 10 times and can’t get the votes for induction. It becomes a credibility issue. If you’re going to tell us a player is the best at his position in the first 50 years of the game then not stand behind that selection when it comes time to hand out busts…why even pick an all-half century team?”

I couldn’t have said it better, Rick.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Paul Hornung

When Vince Lombardi first came into the NFL, he was the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants from 1954 through 1958.

The G-Men were very successful during that time, as the team won the 1956 NFL Championship, plus lost the 1958 NFL Championship Game in overtime.

One of the big reasons for the offensive success for the Giants during that time was the play of halfback Frank Gifford.

When Lombardi saw an opportunity to become a head coach in the NFL in 1959 when the Green Bay Packers came calling, he saw a player that reminded him of Gifford.

That player was Paul Hornung.

That may have been the biggest reason Lombardi decided to accept the job in Green Bay. Jerry Kramer thinks that may be a definite possibility.

“When you talk about Paul, you have to remember how critical he was in the decision that coach Lombardi made to come to Green Bay,” Kramer said. “If you think back, Bart Starr was methane. He was colorless, odorless, tasteless and virtually invisible. We didn’t know who Bart was.

“Bart was competing with a few other guys like Babe Parilli, Joe Francis and Lamar McHan. Bart was back and forth the first couple of years after Lombardi became the coach.

“But I do remember Lombardi saying, ‘that Hornung was going to be his Gifford.’ And remember how critical the sweep was to the Lombardi offense.

“As coach said quite often, ‘This is a play we will make go. This is a play we must make go. We will run it again and again and again.’

“So Hornung may have been the key to getting Lombardi to come to Green Bay.”

The early success for the Packers under Lombardi supports Kramer’s supposition. For one thing, the power sweep averaged 8.3 yards-per-carry the first three years the Packers utilized the play.

The Packers became a force in the running game during that time, as the team averaged 178 yards a game on the ground from 1959-1961.

Fullback Jim Taylor gained 2,860 yards during that time, but Hornung was the star of the offense for many reasons those first three seasons under Lombardi.

During that same time, Hornung gained 1,949 yards rushing, plus scored a whopping 28 touchdowns on the ground.

Hornung was a multi-talented player who could light up the scoreboard. In fact, No. 5 led the NFL in scoring in 1959, 1960 and 1961.

In 1960, Hornung scored 176 points (15 touchdowns, 15 field goals, 41 extra points). This was done in just 12 games. If Hornung had played 16 games that year like the NFL does nowadays, he would have scored 235 points, based on his scoring average per game that season.

Hornung could do it all. He could obviously run, but he also could block extremely well, plus had great hands in catching the football. In addition, Hornung could throw the ball on occasion, as he had been a quarterback at Notre Dame.

Finally, Hornung could also kick. All of those attributes made him an extremely valuable player for the Packers. And as it turned out, No. 5 was also named as the NFL MVP in 1961.

In the 1961 NFL Championship Game in Green Bay, Hornung scored 19 of the 37 points the Packers put on the scoreboard that day, as the Packers blanked the Giants.

Hornung almost didn’t get to play that game because he was on duty with the Army at the time. Fortunately, Lombardi had become friends with President John F. Kennedy and that relationship helped remedy the situation.

Initially, Hornung was not granted access to go back to the Packers for the championship game. That would have been a huge blow, seeing that No. 5 was the NFL MVP that season.

Lombardi was obviously concerned about that situation, so he placed a call to JFK to see if the President would get Hornung a pass to join the team for the big game. Sure enough, Hornung was given a pass to play in the game.

“Paul Hornung isn’t going to win the war on Sunday, but the football fans of this country deserve the two best teams on the field that day,” Kennedy told Lombardi a few days before the championship game against the Giants.

Bottom line, Hornung had a great career with the Packers, even though he wasn’t quite as effective in his last few seasons with the team due to a shoulder injury.

As it was, Hornung was part of four NFL championship teams with the Packers under Lombardi, including the team which won Super Bowl I.

Hornung is one of only five players who have scored at least 700 points for the Packers. No. 5 finished his career with 760 points on 62 touchdowns, 66 field goals and 190 extra points.

This all led to Hornung being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

But that Hall of Fame career started when Lombardi first saw what Hornung could mean to his offense, much like Gifford had done in New York. And the signature play for that offense was the power sweep.

Nobody ran the play better than Hornung either, as Kramer explained to me.

“Paul had good speed, but not great speed,” Kramer said. “But Paul was smart. He was incredibly bright about using his interference.

“For instance, when I would get out on a cornerback on the sweep, the cornerback had to make a decision. He either had to go down at my knees and take me out, or he had to pick a side or back up. If he backed up, I would just run over him.

“If he decided to pick a side to go around me, Hornung would set him up beautifully by faking to the left or right and set the guy up for me to block.

“Paul was absolutely unequaled in that ability. He was a very, very smart runner and a very knowledgeable runner. He just made the play a lot easier for us to execute.”

It was the power sweep in which Hornung scored his last postseason touchdown. It was the 1965 NFL Championship Game versus the Cleveland Browns, as the Packers won 23-12 at Lambeau Field.

No. 5 scored the last touchdown of the game on that signature play of Lombardi and the Packers. Kramer played a big part in the success of that particular play. No. 64 pulled left and first blocked the middle linebacker and then a cornerback as the “Golden Boy” found the end zone.

Kramer and the rest of the offensive line of the Packers totally controlled the trenches that day under muddy conditions, as Hornung rushed for 105 yards and Taylor ran for 96 more.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Jim Ringo

The Green Bay Packers have had a number of great offensive lines in their history, but the offensive line the team put together in the early 1960s was their best ever. It may also be the best offensive line ever in the NFL as well.

One big reason was center Jim Ringo. No. 51 was joined by Bob Skoronski at left tackle, Fuzzy Thurston at left guard, Jerry Kramer at right guard and Forrest Gregg at right tackle.

Ringo played 15 years in the NFL and played 11 of those seasons with the Packers from 1953-1963.

While he was with the Pack, Ringo was named first-team All-Pro six times and was named to seven Pro Bowls.

Ringo was also part of two (1961 & 1962) NFL championship teams with the Packers.

When it was all said and done, the 6’1″, 232-pound Ringo was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

Kramer talked to me recently about Ringo.

“Jim was not a big guy,” Kramer said. “But he had lightning quickness. He also had a great ability to make an onside-cut off block on the defensive tackle.

“One of the reasons that the power sweep was so successful was if the offensive right tackle didn’t have to go after the defensive tackle and instead was able to go after the middle linebacker, we had a much better chance of having a big play.

“It all depended on Ringo getting the onside-cut off block. And that was a difficult block. But he did it very effectively and it made the play that much stronger.

“That play gained 8.3 yards-per-carry for the first three years we ran it.”

The power sweep remained the signature play of the Vince Lombardi offense through 1967, but the play was never as effective as it was when Ringo was center and when Ron Kramer was at tight end.

Ringo was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles after the 1963 season, while Kramer was traded to the Detroit Lions after the 1964 season.

The NFL statistics reflect that. In 1959, which was the first year under Lombardi, the Packers finished third in the NFL in rushing (159 yards-per-game). In 1960, the Packers were ranked second (179 yards-per-game). In 1961, the Packers moved up to first (196 yards-per-game) in running the football and did the same in 1962 (176 yards-per-game).

In 1963 (the year Paul Hornung was suspended), the team finished second in rushing (161 yards-per-game). But in 1964, the Packers moved back to being the number one team in terms of toting the rock (163 yards-per-game).

But in 1965, the Packers fell to 10th in rushing (106 yards-per-game) and then got slightly better in 1966 (120 yards-per-game), as the team finished eighth in rushing.

In 1967, then without both Jim Taylor and Hornung, the Packers moved all the way up to second in the NFL in rushing (137 yards-per-game).

The bottom line is that the Packers were a much better unit on the offensive line with Ringo as their center.

Especially when it came to running the staple play for the Packers under Lombardi.

That would be the power sweep.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Willie Davis

Jerry Kramer had three roommates in his 11 years in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers.

In the first nine years (1958-1966) that No. 64 played under head coach Vince Lombardi, fullback Jimmy Taylor was his roomy.

In 1967, kicker Don Chandler was his roommate.

In 1968, which turned out to be the last season for Kramer in the NFL, his roommate was Willie Davis.

That season was also the year that Lombardi assumed the role of general manager only, as the head coaching duties had been turned over to very capable defensive assistant, Phil Bengtson.

In 1968, the Packers were attempting to win the NFL championship for a fourth consecutive time, which didn’t happen for a myriad of reasons.

In the late 1960s, having a white player and a black player room together was a very rare experience in the NFL. The most widely known example of this was when Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo were roommates for the Chicago Bears.

But under Lombardi, whether as a head coach or as general manager, or as both, race was never an issue on his team.

Kramer wrote about this issue in Instant Replay, as Lombardi treated everyone on the team as equal. Here is an excerpt from that classic book:

‘Vince doesn’t care what color a man is as long as he can play football, as long as he can help us win, and all the players feel the same way. That is what being a Green Bay Packer is all about—winning—and we don’t let anything get in the way of it.’

Davis was the captain of the defense and he certainly showed why with his actions on the field. Davis was a five-time first-team All-Pro, plus was named to five Pro Bowls.

Davis played much larger than his size, which was 6’3″, 243-pounds during his career. Sacks were not considered a statistic while Davis played. That being said, John Turney, who is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association, reported that Davis had over 100 sacks in his 10-year career with the Packers.

Everyone remembers that Reggie White had three sacks in Super Bowl XXXI, but only a few know that Davis had two sacks in Super Bowl I and three more in Super Bowl II.

Davis also recovered 21 fumbles over his Packers career and that still remains a team record.

This fantastic production on the field led to Davis being named to the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, the Packers Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

No. 87 was part of five NFL championship teams in Green Bay, which included the first two Super Bowls.

Kramer recently talked about his former roommate with me.

“Dr. Feelgood,” Kramer said chuckling. “Willie and I sort of drifted together. I don’t know who made the decision for us to room together. We had been downtown looking a possible restaurant franchise with a western theme, and we were both nearing the retirement age.

“Willie was bright, fun and educated extremely well with his MBA from the University of Chicago. I respected Willie’s opinion and his thought process. That sort of brought us together. We ended up having all types of discussions as roommates.”

Kramer talked about a recent get together with Davis.

“I went to his 80th birthday party in Las Vegas,” Kramer said. “We had 400 to 500 of his closest friends there. That included a number of Packers, the Chairman of Dow Chemical, the Chairman of Johnson Controls, the Chairman of MGM Grand and several other business people of that ilk. Willie sat on 17 boards at one time while he was in the business community.”

Speaking of that distinction, Davis is part of the Directors Emeritus of the Packers as well.

Kramer continued his reflection about the former Grambling star.

“Willie is intelligent and funny,” Kramer said. “Willie is principled. You can count on Willie. Willie is the same person today that he was when he and I roomed together. And even though Willie has had significant financial success over the years, he is the same guy. He is a thoughtful, caring, polite and decent human being.”

Kramer than talked about the presence of Davis in the locker room.

“Willie had the respect of the players,” Kramer said. “Not just the players of color, but all the players.

“When there was a problem when black players were having trouble getting decent housing accommodations at one time, Willie would talk to coach Lombardi about it, and then coach would chew some ass and straighten it out.”

It’s pretty obvious that Kramer and Davis are still pretty close, 47 years after they were roommates.

“I have a Kramer suite at the Davis home in Marina del Ray,” Kramer said. “It’s the big bedroom upstairs looking out at the ocean.”

It sounds awesome.

It would also be awesome if Kramer had a bust alongside of Davis at Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That is an honor that has long been overdue for No. 64.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Herb Adderley

Herb Adderley in Super Bowl II

Herb Adderley was drafted in the first round of the 1961 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Adderley played his college ball at Michigan State where he played running back.

In three years as a Spartan, Adderley rushed for 813 yards and four touchdowns. Adderley also showed nice hands as a receiver, as he had 28 receptions for 519 yards and four more scores.

At the point in time the Packers drafted Adderley, the depth chart at running back was pretty deep.

The team already had the best running back combination in the NFL with fullback Jimmy Taylor and halfback Paul Hornung.

Hornung was coming off a fantastic 1960 season, where he had rushed for 671 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. No. 5 also caught 28 more passes for 257 yards and two more scores.

Hornung also led the league in scoring with 176 points, as he also added 41 extra points and 15 field goals. This was all done in just 12 games.

Backing up Hornung was Tom Moore, who was Vince Lombardi’s very first draft pick in 1960, when the Packers took the former Vanderbilt star in the first round.

In the same draft in which Adderley was picked, the Packers also took another running back in the 13th round. That back was Elijah Pitts, who the Packers drafted out of Philander Smith.

The coaching staff of the Packers saw that Adderley had excellent speed, plus had great hands, so he was moved over to the cornerback position.

That turned out to be a very wise decision.

In 1961, Adderley only saw spot playing time, as Jesse Whittenton and Hank Gremminger were the starters at cornerback. No. 26 did have one interception in his rookie year.

From 1962 through the rest of his career, Adderley became one of the very best cornerbacks in the NFL.

In his career, Adderley had 48 picks for 1,046 yards and seven touchdowns. 39 of those interceptions came when he was a member of the Packers. All of his touchdowns also came while he played in Green Bay.

Adderley was also a fine kickoff returner with the Packers, as he had two return touchdowns.

No. 26 finished his career in Dallas with the Cowboys in 1970, 1971 and 1972.

Adderley was part of six teams which won NFL titles and three teams which won the Super Bowl.

In 1980, Adderley was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Kramer gave me his take on Adderley as a teammate.

“Oh boy, Herbie was a real talent,” Kramer said. “He was such a gifted athlete. His body was sculpted. Herbie had brains as well and he knew how to read the opposing quarterbacks.

“One of my biggest memories of Herbie was in the “Ice Bowl” when he was covering Bob Hayes. Hayes would come out of the huddle when he was not involved in the pattern with his hands tucked inside of his pants.

“When Hayes was in the pattern, he had his hands out, hanging down at his side. Herb picked that up immediately. He also had an interception in the first half of that game. Obviously turnovers are always important in that type of game.”

Kramer also talked about an interaction he had with Adderley in Milwaukee several years ago.

“I was with Fuzzy and a bunch of other guys in Milwaukee before the Lombardi golf tournament,” Kramer said. “I thought I saw Herb across the room. After about five minutes go by, I feel a tap on my shoulder.

“I turn around and it was indeed Herb. He had his arms open wide and I gave him a big hug. I mean, we are huggers, not shakers. Herb hugged me pretty hard and he said, ‘It’s still there, JK, isn’t it?’

“I replied to Herbie, that it ‘will always be there.’ I think that love and that respect goes both ways. I would be very comfortable signing a picture for Herbie with that inscription.”

In terms of where Adderley ranked among the very best cornerbacks in the NFL in his era, Kramer offered high praise.

“Herb was right along side “Night Train” Lane,” Kramer said. Those two were in a class by themselves. They were heads and tails above the other cornerbacks in the league, I felt.”

Kramer then mentioned another cornerback who made the transition from running back in college to cornerback for Green Bay.

“The Packers did the same thing with Bob Jeter. Remember when he rushed for over 190 yards on just nine carries for Iowa in the Rose Bowl?”

That also says a lot about the Packer coaching staff in those days. Lombardi ran the offense. Phil Bengtson ran the defense. For them to recognize that both Adderley and Jeter were a better fit on defense says quite a bit.

Kramer concurred.

“They [the coaches] knew the guys were in the wrong spot. They knew where to put those guys so they would be able to excel. It was a significant factor to make that intelligent decision and make it early.”

That decision was a big reason why the Packers had so much success at the cornerback position in the 1960s.

Adderley was first-team All-Pro four times and went to five Pro Bowls. Jeter was first-team All-Pro once and went to two Pro Bowls.

Together the two had 67 interceptions and had nine interception returns for scores.

Not bad for a couple of guys who played running back in the Big Ten before they became pros.

Kramer added this about Adderley.

“Herbie has always been a classy guy,” Kramer said. “Herbie always looked like he stepped out of Gentlemen’s Quarterly. He is just a classy human being.”

Jerry Kramer Talks About Ray Nitschke

Jerry Kramer got to know middle linebacker Ray Nitschke pretty well when both played for the Green Bay Packers under head coach Vince Lombardi.

Kramer was part of the same draft class with Nitschke, which was the class of 1958. That class also included linebacker Dan Currie, who was drafted in the first round, fullback Jim Taylor, who was drafted in the second round, Nitschke, who was selected in the third round and Kramer, who was selected in the fourth round.

All four of those players had excellent careers in the NFL, with two of them (Taylor and Nitschke) getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are many, including myself, who believe that Kramer deserves the same honor.

In his career, Nitschke was named Associated Press All-Pro five times and was named to only one Pro Bowl squad for some ridiculous reason. Nitschke was also MVP of the 1962 NFL Championship game against the New York Giants, as he deflected one pass for an interception and recovered two fumbles, as the Packers won 16-7.

Coincidentally, in that same NFL title games versus the G-Men, Kramer was responsible for 10 of the 16 points that the Packers scored in that game, as he doubled as kicker and right guard in a game which was played in frigid and windy conditions at old Yankee Stadium.

Kramer received a game ball from the players and coaches for his efforts in that game as well.

Nitschke, like Kramer and a number of other players, were part of teams which ended up winning five NFL championships (including the first two Super Bowls) in seven years under coach Lombardi in Green Bay.

Kramer also got to know Nitschke well on the practice field.

Nitschke played hard at all times, whether in practice or in games, and he would use his most famous defensive technique often. That would be using his forearm as a formidable weapon. No. 66 would usually deliver that forearm blow to the head of an opponent, whether it was a ballcarrier or a blocker.

Now Nitschke usually reserved that aggressive style of play versus the opponents of the Packers, but he also sometimes put a vicious hit on a teammate on offense at practice.

That included Kramer at times.

Kramer also had a tradition with Nitschke before games, just before kickoff. Nitschke would pound Kramer twice on the shoulder pads and slap No. 64 on the side of the helmet.

That would definitely knock out the cobwebs for No. 64 before the official game started.

Kramer would do the same pre-game ritual to Nitschke, except for the slap to the helmet.

Kramer also got to know Nitschke off the field as well, where the former Fighting Illini star was a bit of a wild child his first few years in Green Bay.

Kramer reflected about the years he spent with Nitschke in Green Bay.

“Raymond probably had the greatest journey of anyone who ever played,” Kramer said. “In the early days, he was a drinker, a pain in the ass and a loudmouth. He was vulgar, rude and was just a real jerk.

“I almost got into it one time with him while we were having a few beers. I had him by the throat one time and threw him up against the wall. Ray didn’t want to fight because we were teammates, so I ended up just giving him a lecture about his obnoxious ways.

“About his third year with us, he met a lady who loved him and he quit drinking. He also found a team that loved him. And he became the most thoughtful, caring, loving, polite, decent, wonderful human being I’ve ever known.

“That also led him to become a hell of a football player and a great competitor.”

Besides being a great football player, Nitschke was a great athlete overall.

“I played golf with him one day and Ray shot a 67,” Kramer said. “We were playing with Jan Stenerud and Willie Wood. Stenerud said, ‘Jesus Christ, I shoot a 71 and get beat by four strokes.’

“Ray was a hell of a baseball player too. He could throw a football close to 80 yards as well. Plus, Ray also was a wonderful basketball player. All-around, Ray was really an exceptional athlete.”

And like so many of the players who played under coach Lombardi in Green Bay, Nitschke became an exceptional human being as well.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Bart Starr

When Jerry Kramer recalls his first couple of years in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, there was one player who seemed almost obscure.

That player was Bart Starr.

“Bart was like methane,” Kramer said. “He was colorless, tasteless, odorless and virtually invisible. I don’t remember anything he said or anything he did.”

If one looks back at the 1958 season, which was Kramer’s rookie year with the Packers, one can see why No. 64 did not  have a distinct memory of No. 15. The Packers were 1-10-1 that season under head coach Ray “Scooter” McLean. Starr started seven games that season and was 0-6-1 in those games.

For the season, Starr threw just three touchdown passes versus 12 interceptions for 875 yards. Starr’s passer rating was just 41.2.

In 1959, Vince Lombardi was brought in to become the new head coach of the Packers. Starr’s performance at quarterback in 1958 didn’t exactly excite Lombardi, so he traded for Lamar McHan of the Chicago Cardinals.

Over the next two years, both Starr and McHan received significant playing time at starting quarterback. McHan started 11 games, while Starr started 13.

By the middle of the 1960 season, Starr became the full-time starter at quarterback. Led by Starr, the Packers won their last three games of the season and Green Bay won the Western Conference title.

Kramer mentioned an incident which occurred around this time which showed that Starr was the clear leader for the Packers. “We were playing the Chicago Bears,” Kramer said. “Bill George was their middle linebacker at the time. On a deep pass attempt, George thought he would try to intimidate Bart.

“Bill took about a five-yard run and he gave Bart a forearm right in the mouth. George timed it perfectly and put Bart right on his behind. He also cut Bart badly, from his lip all the way to his nose. After that, George said, ‘That ought to take care of you Starr, you pu**y.’ Bart snapped right back at George and said, ‘F— you, Bill George, we’re coming after you.’

“My jaw dropped after that exchange, as I was shocked. Meanwhile Bart was bleeding profusely. I told Bart that he better go to the sideline and get sewn up. Bart replied, ‘Shut up and get in the huddle.’

“Bart took us down the field in seven or eight plays and we scored. That series of plays really solidified Bart as our leader and we never looked back.”

Bart vs. da Bears

Starr truly became the leader of the Pack, as the team won five NFL titles in seven years, which included the first two Super Bowls. Starr was the MVP in both Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II.

But that should not be surprising to anyone who followed Starr’s career in the postseason. In fact, Starr is the highest-rated quarterback in NFL postseason history with a 104.8 mark.

Starr led the Packers to a 9-1 record in ten games. Starr threw 15 touchdown passes versus just three picks for 1,753 yards in those 10 games.

Starr’s most famous play in the postseason was his quarterback sneak in the closing seconds of the 1967 NFL Championship Game versus the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field.

That game is better known as the “Ice Bowl”, because it was extremely cold that day in Green Bay, as the game-time temperature was 13 degrees below zero. If you added the wind, it was bone-chillingly cold, as there was a minus-48-degree windchill for the game. But when it counted most, with 16 seconds to go and no timeouts, Starr followed a classic block by Kramer, as he shuffled happily into the end zone, scoring the winning touchdown in a 21-17 victory.

Colorized Ice Bowl Bart Starr QB sneak

No. 15 wasn’t bad in the regular season either, as he led the Packers to a 94-57-6 record in the games he started. Starr also won three passing titles and was the NFL MVP in 1966.

Overall, Starr threw 152 touchdown passes versus 138 interceptions for 24,718 yards in his career. All of that led to Starr being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, when he was part of the same class with his former teammate, Forrest Gregg.

Kramer further reflected about the demeanor of Starr in the time he spent with him in Green Bay. “Bart was not a loud or vocal person,” Kramer said. “He was pretty private. He didn’t say anything, unless he had something to say.

“And he wasn’t very loud about it, unless he had a reason to be. But Bart had all the strength of character and all the intestinal fortitude that anyone would need to play the game at a high-level.

“And that’s what Bart did. Bart had a little steel in his backbone. That game against the Bears gave us our first glimpse of his toughness and that continued throughout the rest of his career.”