Jerry Kramer Talks About Dan Currie

Last week the Green Bay Packers had their annual alumni event for their game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

Former Packer greats like John Anderson, John Brockington, Willie Buchanon, Leroy Butler, Al Carmichael, Paul Coffman, Fred Cone, Dan Currie, Lynn Dickey, Gerry Ellis, Ken Ellis, Antonio Freeman, Johnnie Gray, Ahman Green, Chris Jacke, Ezra Johnson, Gary Knafelc, James Lofton, Don Majkowski, Chester Marcol, John Martinkovic, Mark Murphy, Ken Ruettgers and Frank Winters were in attendance.

In addition, so were a number of players who played on the team which won Super Bowl I. This included Donny Anderson, Zeke Bratkowski, Allen Brown, Tom Brown, Bill Curry, Carroll Dale, Willie Davis, Boyd Dowler, Marv Fleming, Jim Grabowski, Forrest Gregg, Doug Hart, Dave Hathcock, Jerry Kramer, Red Mack, Dave Robinson, Jim Taylor and Steve Wright.

The Super Bowl I players will be honored on Monday night at Lambeau Field when the Packers take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

If you look at the first group of players, all of them are now in the Packers Hall of Fame due to their playing prowess on the field. So are a number of the Super Bowl I alumni, and some of those players are also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

One player who definitely should in Canton, but who isn’t, is Jerry Kramer.

Kramer was part of the 1958 draft class for the Packers. That class has to be the best draft class in the history of the Packers, as well as one of the best ever in the NFL.

Just look at that draft.

In the first round, the Packers selected Dan Currie from Michigan State.

In the second round, Green Bay took Jim Taylor from LSU.

In the third round, the Packers picked Ray Nitschke from Illinois.

In the fourth round, the Pack went with Jerry Kramer from Idaho.

Taylor and Nitschke have busts in Canton, while Kramer certainly should have one too.

Currie was a very talented player as well.

In seven years with the Packers, Currie was named first-team All-Pro once by the  Associated Press, plus was also given that same designation three other times by NEA (Newspaper Enterprise Association), twice by UPI (United Press International) and once by the New York Daily News.

Currie was also named to the Pro Bowl in 1960.

In his years in Green Bay, Currie played left outside linebacker. Currie was normally grouped with Nitschke, who played middle linebacker, as well as Bill Forrester, who played right outside linebacker. In 1964, which was Currie’s last year with the Packers, Forrester was replaced by Lee Roy Caffey.

Currie was a very athletic linebacker and he also had a nose for the football. No. 58 had 11 career interceptions for the Packers in the regular season, plus recovered six fumbles.

Currie also picked off a pass in the 1962 NFL Championship Game against the New York Giants at frigid and windy Yankee Stadium.

That was the game in which Kramer kicked three field goals and an extra point in the 16-7 win for the Packers. No. 64 also played right guard that day, as Taylor ran for 85 yards and also scored the lone Green Bay touchdown. As a team, the Packers gained 148 yards rushing that day.

After the 1964 season, Vince Lombardi traded Currie to the Los Angeles Rams for wide receiver Carroll Dale.

I had a chance recently to talk with Kramer about Currie.

“Dan was the number one draft choice,” Kramer said. “Out of Michigan State. He was an All-American center and an All-American linebacker as well. A great all-around football player.

“Dan had his opinions. For instance, one of the coaches were trying to tell him one time that he should have done something else on a particular play. So Dan says, ‘It’s instinct! You put me in the same position and the same thing happens, I’m going to do the same thing!’

“But Dan was a super ballplayer. He was also a proud ballplayer. Dan took care of his business.

“We called him Dapper because he always wore a coat and tie. He was always dressed well.

“Dapper could have had a career in Hollywood. He was a Clark Gable type of guy. He had a lot of fun and had a great sense of humor.”

Currie suffered a knee injury with the Packers and he was never the same ballplayer he was earlier in his career.

Kramer talked about that as well.

“Tommy McDonald was a wide receiver for Philadelphia and he probably went 5’10” and 175 pounds. He was a little ball of muscle and energy. Anyway, he cracked-back on Dapper’s knee on a running play one time.

“That tore Dan’s knee up and he was never the same after that injury.”

If one looks at Currie’s interception in the 1962 NFL title game, No. 58 had clear sailing for a pick-six. But as he was running near the sideline of the Packers, his knee gave out and he stumbled and fell after returning the interception 30 yards.

After his playing career ended, Currie eventually became a security guard at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas for 25 years.

Currie is now in an assisted living center in Las Vegas and has come across some difficult times.

It didn’t help matters when Currie was assigned a private, for-profit guardian named April Parks by the court system of Clark County.

Dan and Joanna

People who are close to Currie, like good friend Joanna Saxton, started noticing improprieties occurring after Parks became Currie’s guardian.

Saxton talked to Kramer about a number of alarming issues which were ongoing under Park’s watch as guardian.

Kramer then enlisted the help of Bob Schmidt, who is the Executive Director of the Pro Football Retired Players Association.

Schmidt also reached out to Dana Lihan, who is the Program Director for the NFL Player Care Foundation.

The situation took a dramatic turn this past Monday, when Parks had her home and office served with search warrants by the police for guardian exploitation.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears is the KTNV reporter who has closely been following this case.

Spears has asked the court what will happen with all the people (more than 100), including Currie, who are under the guardianship of Parks, now that police have seized her files, paperwork and computer equipment.

The court hasn’t responded as of yet, but one thing is for sure, better days are ahead for Currie.

When Currie was in Green Bay last weekend, he and Saxton met with Kramer and his son Dan at the Stadium View bar on Saturday night.

Then on Sunday morning, they all had breakfast together.

Dan and the rest of the Pack

On Sunday night they all celebrated a great victory by the Packers over the Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

Once this guardianship issue is resolved for Currie, there will be another celebration.

You can be certain that Kramer will be with Currie in Las Vegas toasting that victory.

Jerry Kramer Talks About the Super Bowl I Green Bay Packers

When the 2-0 Green Bay Packers will host the 1-1 Kansas City Chiefs this upcoming Monday night at Lambeau Field, they will be attempting to do what no other Packers team has ever done to the Chiefs in the regular season.

That is, beat them at home. The Chiefs have never lost at Lambeau Field (3-0) and when Kansas City played at County Stadium in Milwaukee versus the Pack in 1973, the two teams tied.

In the overall series between the two teams in the regular season, the Chiefs hold a 7-2-1 edge.

The first time the two teams met was in the very first Super Bowl.

The Packers were 12-2 in the Western Conference during the1966 season and defeated the Dallas Cowboys 34-27 in the NFL title game.

The Chiefs were 11-2-1 that season and defeated the Buffalo Bills 31-7 in the AFL title game.

When the two teams met in Super Bowl I, the Packers ended up winning the game 35-10, as quarterback Bart Starr was named the MVP of the game.

No. 15 completed 16-of-23 passes for 250 yards and also threw two touchdown passes. Starr was especially deadly on third down, as the Packers were able to convert 11-of-15 chances on that crucial down.

The game was played on January 15, 1967 and most people called it the AFL-NFL World Championship Game then, as opposed to the Super Bowl.

How the championship game got it’s Super Bowl name actually came from Lamar Hunt’s daughter. Hunt was the then-owner of the Chiefs, and like most kids of that era, Hunt’s daughter had a super ball.

The super ball was a rubber ball (with something super inside it) that could bounce way up into the air from the sidewalk and over houses. I had one myself. Anyway, that is how the title game between the NFL and the AFL got its name.

The game occurred after the merger of the two leagues in June of 1966, after the AFL had been trying to sign big-name stars out of the NFL as well as bidding against them to sign talent out of the college ranks after their respective drafts.

To illustrate the magnitude of the game, it was televised by not one, but by two networks, CBS and NBC. CBS was the NFL’s network, while NBC was the AFL‘s network. Between the two, there were over 51 million viewers that day.

The event was also the only game in Super Bowl history that was not a sellout. It was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the attendance was only 61,946 in a stadium that could seat close to 93,000 people in it. Why?

For one thing, Los Angeles wasn’t awarded the game until six weeks before the event, nor was a date set until then. Not exactly a well-planned event, to be sure.

Back to the Monday night contest between the Packers and the Chiefs. The Packers are honoring their Super Bowl I team at the game.

This will include players such as Donny Anderson, Zeke Bratkowski, Allen Brown, Tom Brown, Bill Curry, Carroll Dale, Willie Davis, Boyd Dowler, Marv Fleming, Jim Grabowski, Forrest Gregg, Doug Hart, Dave Hathcock, Jerry Kramer, Red Mack, Dave Robinson, Jim Taylor and Steve Wright.

I had a chance to talk to talk with Kramer recently, and he gave me his thoughts about that Super Bowl I team.

Kramer first talked about the mindset of the Packers going into that first Super Bowl.

“It’s interesting, because we didn’t really the think the Kansas City Chiefs were a very good football team,” Kramer said. “We didn’t know, because we didn’t know anyone who had played them. We didn’t have any team to measure them against.

“I remember watching the Chiefs defense while we were watching film, and their two safeties ran into one and another. All of a sudden Max [McGee] starts doing the merrie melodies and looney tunes theme song and we all cracked up.

“So we were not really prepared for that first quarter and the quality of talent that showed up for the Chiefs. You were playing against guys like Buck Buchanan, E.J. Holub, Johnny Robinson and Bobby Bell. They had some damn fine football players!”

The Packers only led 14-10 at halftime. But things were completely different in the second half.

Safety Willie Wood picked off a Len Dawson pass early in the third quarter and returned it 50 yards to set up a five-yard touchdown run by Elijah Pitts.

Kramer explained what happened after that.

“We lined up for the extra point against the Chiefs,” Kramer said. “And that’s place where a defender can take a whack at a guy’s head while he’s blocking because it’s exposed. But the kid who was against me just leaned on me with the force of a good feather duster and groaned loudly.

“He used minimum pressure with his effort. He wasn’t trying to block the kick or do anything. After that, I knew the game was over.”

While the Packers were surprised early in the game by the Chiefs, their head coach wasn’t.

“Coach Lombardi knew how good the Chiefs were,” Kramer said. “He tried to impress us about the quality of the team as he raised the fine for breaking curfew from $500 to $5,000.”

That didn’t stop McGee from sneaking out the night before the game, however.

McGee was a star receiver for the Packers in Lombardi’s early years in Green Bay, but in 1965 and 1966, McGee didn’t get a lot of playing time. When he did, he was very clutch.

Before Super Bowl I, McGee caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Starr that was the difference in the 34-27 1966 NFL championship game win at the Cotton Bowl against the Cowboys. But Super Bowl I was where he really made his legend.

McGee didn’t expect to play, so he snuck out after curfew the night before the game. McGee couldn’t convince roommate Paul Hornung to go with him that night. No matter, McGee stayed out late that evening and didn’t return until the team breakfast the next morning.

Little did he know what was going to happen that day as he got a one-hour cat nap after breakfast. Starting wide receiver Boyd Dowler injured his shoulder early in the game and McGee had to go in to replace him. McGee was startled as he heard Lombardi yell, “McGee! McGee! Get your ass in there.”

Max got his behind in there all right. Besides catching the first touchdown pass in Super Bowl history, No. 85 put up amazing stats, as he ended up with seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Kramer talked about how nervous Lombardi was before the big game.

“Frank Gifford and I were talking about the game,” Kramer said. “Gifford was part of the broadcast team for CBS and he interviewed Lombardi before the game.

“Giff told me, ‘I put my hand on Lombardi’s shoulder as I’m interviewing him and I could feel that he was shaking. He was so nervous that he was trembling.’

“Coach Lombardi did take this game very seriously. He was getting notes from the NFL hierarchy, which included George Halas, the Mara family and the Rooney family. They were telling Lombardi that he was our standard-bearer in the NFL and that he represents us. They were saying things like don’t let the NFL down.

“They didn’t want the Packers to just beat the Chiefs. They wanted the Packers to embarrass the Chiefs. So, Coach Lombardi had a lot of pressure on him.”

When it was all said and done, Lombardi and his Packers were victorious by almost a four-touchdown margin in the very first Super Bowl.

The NFL had to be pleased.

When talking about that historical game, Kramer talked about the event which is excited him the most.

“The highlight of the game for me was the astronauts flying around the stadium in a jet pack in the halftime show,” Kramer said. “I thought that was pretty sensational.”

Indeed, it was. I know I loved it being a big Lost In Space fan at the time, as that type of activity was part of the show.

In terms of being sensational, that word describes the Lombardi Packers of the 1960s. Those teams won five NFL championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls.

Plus, there were the three consecutive NFL titles in 1965, 1966 and 1967.

Yes, there have been some dynasties in the NFL since then. Teams like the Dolphins, the Steelers, the Cowboys, the Raiders, the 49ers and the Patriots have been dominant at times.

But no team has ever achieved the consistent success of the Lombardi Packers.

After all, there is a reason why the ultimate prize in the NFL is called the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Aaron Rodgers Has Reached the Top of the Mountain Among NFL Quarterbacks

When it comes to being a prolific passer in NFL annals, quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is simply the very best. No. 12 has done some things in the passing game that no NFL quarterback has ever done.

It stands to reason. Rodgers is the all-time leader in NFL career passer rating, with a mark of 106.4. No other quarterback in NFL history is above the 100 mark in their career.

This is based on at least 1,500 pass attempts.

Rodgers has had six straight seasons now of having a passer rating of over 100. That is unheard of.

But the statistic that really sets Rodgers apart from any quarterback that has ever played in the NFL is his touchdown pass to interception ratio.

Rodgers has thrown 231 touchdown passes in his career, versus just 57 picks. That puts Rodgers at a four to one ratio (4.05) in the touchdown pass to interception equation.

Truly incredible.

No NFL quarterback has even come close with their career numbers. Not one quarterback is even at the three to one ratio in throwing touchdown passes versus interceptions. Not one.

Let’s look at the stats from some of the all-time greats.

Peyton Manning

Quarterback Rating: 97.3

Touchdown Passes: 533

Interceptions: 236

TD Pass to Interception Ratio: 2.23

Steve Young

Quarterback Rating: 96.8

Touchdown Passes: 232

Interceptions: 107

TD Pass to Interception Ratio: 2.16

Tom Brady

Quarterback Rating: 96.2

Touchdown Passes: 399

Interceptions: 143

TD Pass to Interception Ratio: 2.79

Joe Montana

Quarterback Rating: 92.3

Touchdown Passes: 273

Interceptions: 139

TD Pass to Interception Ratio: 1.96

Dan Marino

Quarterback Rating: 86.4

Touchdown Passes: 420

Interceptions: 252

TD pass to Interception Ratio: 1.66

Brett Favre

Quarterback Rating: 86.0

Touchdown Passes: 508

Interceptions: 336

TD Pass to Interception Ratio: 1.51

John Elway

Quarterback Rating: 79.9

Touchdown Passes: 300

Interceptions: 226

TD Pass to Interception Ratio: 1.33

Johnny Unitas

Quarterback Rating: 78.2

Touchdown Passes: 290

Interceptions: 253

TD Pass to Interception Ratio: 1.15

If you compare those numbers with the ones Rodgers has put up, you can truly see how superb the play of No. 12 has been in Green Bay.

Rodgers has also stood out in the postseason. Rodgers has a passer rating of 101.0, which is only topped by Bart Starr (104.8) and Kurt Warner (102.8) in NFL postseason history.

Rodgers was the MVP of Super Bowl XLV and has thrown 23 touchdown passes versus seven interceptions in his career in the postseason.

That’s not quite at the 4.05 touchdown pass to interception mark that Rodgers has in his career in the regular season, but it’s still a 3.29 mark in the playoffs.

Rodgers is also working on an unbelievable streak that he has ongoing at Lambeau Field.

No. 12 hasn’t thrown an interception at Lambeau Field since December 2, 2012. Meanwhile, Rodgers has tossed 43 touchdown passes at the legendary stadium during that same time.

Yes, the two-time NFL MVP has truly gone where no NFL quarterback has gone before.

And Rodgers isn’t done yet.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Alumni Weekend for the Green Bay Packers

When the 1-0 Green Bay Packers take on the 0-1 Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night at Lambeau Field, there will be some very interested observers at the game.

Yes, this is alumni weekend for the Packers. Several former Green Bay players will be in attendance, including a number of players who were on the team which won Super Bowl I.

Some of the the Packers scheduled to attend are John Anderson, John Brockington, Willie Buchanon, Leroy Butler, Al Carmichael, Paul Coffman, Fred Cone, Dan Currie, Lynn Dickey, Gerry Ellis, Ken Ellis, Antonio Freeman, Johnnie Gray, Ahman Green, Chris Jacke, Ezra Johnson, Gary Knafelc, James Lofton, Don Majkowski, Chester Marcol, John Martinkovic, Mark Murphy, Ken Ruettgers and Frank Winters.

In addition, Esera Tuaolo will be singing the national anthem, plus Butler and Ruettgers will be taking part in fan activities at the Tundra Tailgate Zone and Legends Club leading up to the kickoff of the game.

The Super Bowl I alumni which will be on hand include Donny Anderson, Zeke Bratkowski, Allen Brown, Tom Brown, Bill Curry, Carroll Dale, Willie Davis, Boyd Dowler, Marv Fleming, Jim Grabowski, Forrest Gregg, Doug Hart, Dave Hathcock, Jerry Kramer, Red Mack, Dave Robinson, Jim Taylor and Steve Wright.

A number of players from the Super Bowl I team will stay the week and take part in various events in both Green Bay and Milwaukee, as they will have a week-long celebration leading up to a Monday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 28.

I talked to Kramer earlier this week and he gave me his thoughts about alumni weekend.

“It’s like going home to a family reunion,” Kramer said. “There has always been a deep emotional bond with the guys who I played with. There’s also a professional admiration for all the former Packers.

“As a ballplayer you would look at the other players and you measure them subconsciously. You would look at their legs, you would look at their shoulders, you would look at their their fat and look at their physique.

“Then you would watch them run, watch them catch and watch them block. Then you would form opinions about the player. Like, this guy has great speed, but is a little shy about contact. Or this other guy is not shy about contact, but he doesn’t have the speed.

“You kind of gravitate towards the contributors. If a guy is making a contribution to your team, your organization, to your group, it didn’t matter what the hell he looked like. It didn’t matter what his skin color was. It didn’t matter where the hell he came from.”

Kramer then talked about the dynamic which bonded the players together.

“There are two things about that, Bobby,” Kramer continued. “First of all, Coach Lombardi put us through a hellacious training camp. There were kids losing consciousness on the field and in the chow line.

“For instance, Hawg Hanner spent three days at morning practice and three afternoons in the hospital getting an IV for dehydration. So it was an intense workout. And it pushed you close to the edge of your tolerance.

“So you got angry at Coach Lombardi and called him every name in the book. And if the guy next to you was a black person, he was united with me in our resentment of Lombardi. He was my pal. We were in a fox hole together. We shared a common survival trait.

“That bond that developed between us is still there today. I love Willie Davis. I love Herbie [Herb Adderley] and I love Robby [Dave Robinson]. They are family to me.

“So I think it was a strategy that Coach Lombardi was aware of and was done on purpose to try and build team unity. That type of treatment came from the military, as a drill sergeant does basically the same thing.”

It’s important to know that before Lombardi came to the NFL and joined the New York Giants as an assistant coach in 1954, he was an assistant to the legendary Earl “Red” Blaik at Army from 1949-1953.

No. 64 continued.

“The other thing is the contribution of the player on Sunday afternoon,” Kramer said. “If a guy made a contribution, he automatically elevated himself in my eyes. And you have a fondness for him and a good feeling about him.

“There was a great bond there. Even if somebody did a little something out of line, you wouldn’t say anything about it. We didn’t get into each others personal life. And we didn’t judge them by their personal habits. We judged them by their contribution to the team on Sunday.

“And by that judgement standard, they were all pretty damn sensational. So there was an emotional bond, as well as a physical analysis or measuring process.

“In the emotional bond, you shared the depths of bitterness and defeat. Plus you shared the heights of elation, glory and victory. Most of us were together for most of Coach Lombardi’s years in Green Bay.

“Whether it was two years or 10 years, there was a hell of a feeling there. And it still exists today.”

Kramer also knows that alumni weekend is also somewhat bittersweet because some of his teammates are no longer around. Kramer, who will turn 80 in January of 2016, has seen some of his closest friends pass away in recent years.

Great friends like Fuzzy Thurston, Don Chandler and Max McGee.

“It’s like family again, Bob,” Kramer said. “It’s like losing a member of your family. We were fortunate to have a large family of 35 to 40 guys, and now we are losing some of that family. There is sorrow and sadness every time you lose one of them.

“There is a definite awareness of the dwindling time that we have together. The clock is ticking. We have lost about half the guys. I think there will be 21 guys at the [Super Bowl I] reunion, as Bart [Starr] and Paul [Hornung] won’t be there, as Bart is sick and Paul has something else going on.

“So it is very much like a family. You are acutely aware of every guy. You’ve been worrying about Bart. You’ve been worrying about Forrest [Gregg]. You’ve been worrying about Willie [Davis] now.

“There isn’t a hell of lot that you can do, except give them a hug when you see them and tell them that you still love them. Try to enjoy the time you have.”

Bottom line, I know the 80,000-plus crowd at Lambeau Field on Sunday night will show Kramer and the rest of the alumni of the Packers how much they still love and appreciate them.

The Packers Overcame Injury Issues on the 1996 and 2010 Super Bowl Teams

The 2015 Green Bay Packers have already been hit with a couple of key injuries on their roster so far. And the Packers have only played one game.

First, wide receiver Jordy Nelson tore his ACL in a preseason game in Pittsburgh. Nelson had another terrific season in 2014, as No. 87 had 98 receptions for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Nelson also went to his first Pro Bowl.

Then inside linebacker Sam Barrington re-injured his foot in the season opener in Chicago and has been placed on injured reserve.

Barrington started seven games for the Packers in the second half of the 2014 season and the defense as a whole was greatly improved after that lineup change.

Especially the run defense.

Trying to overcome these key injuries will be a difficult task. But it can be done. All the Packers need to do is look at the last two teams which brought back the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay.

In 1996, the Packers lost wide receiver Robert Brooks to a season-ending knee injury in the seventh game of the season. Brooks had put up monster numbers just the year before, as he had 102 receptions for 1,497 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Those statistics almost mirror what Nelson put up last year for the Pack.

The injuries kept mounting for the Packers that season for the receivers who caught passes from the NFL MVP from that season, Brett Favre.

Wide receiver Antonio Freeman suffered a broken arm that season which caused him to miss four games. Tight end Mark Chmura also suffered a foot injury which hampered him at the end of the season.

So what did the Packers do to rectify the situation? After two straight losses, the general manager Ron Wolf signed free agent wide receiver Andre Rison.

It’s interesting to know, that Wolf’s director of pro personnel that season was Ted Thompson.

After the acquisition of Rison, the Packers did not lose another game. Both in the regular season and the postseason, as the Pack won eight straight games, finishing with a win in Super Bowl XXXI.

Rison caught two passes for 77 yards in the big game, including a 54-yard touchdown reception early in the contest.

The Packers also had issues at the left tackle position as Ken Ruettgers only played in four games that season, including just one start due to an assortment of injury woes.

The Packers first tried rookie John Michels at left tackle, but after an uneven performance by Michel in nine starts, the Packers then used Gary Brown there in four starts. Finally, the Packers turned to Bruce Wilkerson, who did a fine job protecting Favre’s blindside the rest of the season (two starts) and the postseason.

Plus, in the first postseason game the Packers played against the San Fransisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round at Lambeau Field, the Packers lost middle linebacker George Koonce to a knee injury.

Ron Cox took over at the Mike position and he started both the NFC title game and the Super Bowl and was solid there.

In 2010, the Packers ended up putting 15 players on the injured reserve list, one of which was inside linebacker Nick Barnett. Desmond Bishop stepped in and did a great job when given the opportunity to play opposite A.J. Hawk.

Another player who ended up on the IR was veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher, who only played in four games. Rookie Bryan Bulaga stepped in and did a nice job holding down that position.

When the Packers played the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, the Packers secondary suffered some key injuries in the first half. Sam Shields suffered a shoulder injury, while Charles Woodson broke his collarbone.

The Packers secondary in the second half had this group of starters:

Tramon Williams and Pat Lee were the cornerbacks, while Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah manned the safety position. Jarrett Bush came in when the Packers went to the nickel look.

Somehow that secondary hung on and the Packers won 31-25, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a MVP performance.

The 2015 Packers helped cushion themselves after the Nelson injury by signing former Packer James Jones the week before the season after he was released by the New York Giants. Man, did that pay off.

Jones had four receptions for 51 yards and two touchdowns versus da Bears. Not bad for a guy who has been cut by two different NFL teams in 2015.

The depth is still very solid at wide receiver, as the Packers still have Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis, besides bringing back No. 89.

Nate Palmer stepped in at inside linebacker after Barrington went down and looked okay at the position, as he had six tackles and one assist.

Palmer looked better in pass coverage than Barrington did, but he was part of a defense which allowed 402 total yards, which included 189 yards on the ground.

So now it will be up to Palmer and his backup Jake Ryan to solidify the play at inside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews.

Matthews continues to move around on defense, as he played inside on 54 of 77 snaps on defense.

Bottom line, the Packers have been able to win the ultimate prize in the NFL, the Super Bowl, by overcoming significant injuries in 1996 and 2010.

Time will tell if the Packers can do the same thing this season.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Dave Robinson

From 1965 through 1969, the Green Bay Packers had the best set of linebackers in the NFL without question. Ray Nitschke was the middle linebacker, while Lee Roy Caffey played right outside linebacker and Dave Robinson played left outside linebacker.

The Packers defense was ranked third, third, first, third and fourth in the NFL, respectively, when the trio of Robinson, Nitschke and Caffey started together.

All three linebackers were excellent tacklers who also had a knack to create turnovers for the defense.

Take a look at their stats during that time.

Nitschke had 10 interceptions (one for a touchdown) and had seven fumble recoveries in the five years the trio played together.

Caffey had eight interceptions (two for touchdowns) and had three fumble recoveries.

Pretty good numbers for both Nitschke and Caffey, huh?

Now look at the stats for Robinson during that same time. Robby had a whopping 14 picks and also seven fumble recoveries.

Can you see why this trio was the best in the business?

Caffey was named first-team All-Pro once and also made one Pro Bowl appearance.

Nitschke was named first-team All-Pro twice and unbelievably only went to one Pro Bowl. But No. 66 was good enough to be the the All-Decade team of the 1960s, plus was on the NFL 50th anniversary team.

That all led to Nitschke getting inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Robinson was named first-team All-Pro twice, plus went to three Pro Bowls. No. 89 was also on the All-Decade team of the 1960s.

Robby was also inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Nitschke (1978), Robinson (1982) and Caffey (1986) were all also inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.

Nitschke, Caffey and Robinson all had something in common, besides being great playmakers. They all stood 6’3″ and all of them went between 240 to 250 pounds.

Big men who made big plays.

Robinson was the first selection for the Packers in the 1963 NFL draft out of Penn State. No. 89 played behind Dan Currie in his first two years in the league, but then took the NFL by storm after he became a full-time starter in 1965.

Robinson could go sideline to sideline, both in stopping the run and in coverage. He was a complete linebacker who could do it all.

Jerry Kramer talked to me recently about his time with Robinson in Green Bay.

“Robby was a bright kid. He just loved to argue. I think he would rather argue than eat I believe,” Kramer chuckled. “And Robby loves to eat. He would spit facts out at you that you would check out later and he was generally right on target.

“He studied engineering at Penn State. He was a good thinker on the football field too. He followed his keys very well and was tough to block. He was a really good football player.

“With Robby, Nitschke and Caffey there, that was maybe the best linebackers corps we have ever seen.”

Kramer then talked about when Robinson first joined the Packers in 1963.

“He was kind of a quiet kid. At first. But once you became friendly with him, you couldn’t hush him up.”

Robinson played on the College All-Star team that played the Packers in the first preseason game of 1963. The All-Stars shocked Vince Lombardi and the Pack, as they upset Green Bay 20-17.

Kramer recalled that evening.

‘Robby had to join the team after the game and come and have dinner with us afterwards,” Kramer said. “When he came into the locker room he was full of piss and vinegar, smiling and laughing because of the win.

“Coach Lombardi glared at him and Robby looked around the room and he realized that he was now in the losing dressing room after coming from the winning dressing room.

“Bottom line, there was no laughter in Lombardi land that night. Losing to the College All-Star team was embarrassing to the coach and he was very pissed.

“Robby picked up that attitude very quickly and quieted down.”

In 1963, Robinson also kicked off at times for the Packers.

Paul Hornung was suspended for that season for gambling. That meant that Kramer would have to continue to be the placekicker for the Packers that season, just like he was for most of the 1962 season.

Kramer made 9-of-11 field goals in the1962 regular season, plus was 38-of-39 in extra points. No. 64 also added three more field goals and an extra point in the 1962 NFL Championship Game at windy and frigid Yankee Stadium, as the Packers beat the New York Giants 16-7.

Kramer wasn’t quite as accurate in the 1963 season, but he still made 16 field goals and 43 extra points for a total of 91 points, which was the fourth-best mark in the NFL.

While Kramer did the bulk of the kicking for the Packers, the Packers used other players for the actual kickoff, as that part of his kicking game was not Kramer’s strongest suit.

Kramer talked about that situation.

“We were looking for somebody to do that,” Kramer said. “When Hornung was kicking, they would take Hornung out of the game on third down often times and let him catch his breath.

“They never gave me a blow or took me out of the game. So I’m running the sweep 40 yards downfield and I came back to the huddle huffing and puffing. The next thing you know I have to kick. I was at a bit of a disadvantage there.

“I was not a deep kicker on the kickoffs. So we were looking for someone to take over that role. We tried Willie Wood out. And we tried Robby out. I still did the bulk of the kickoffs that year. We were looking for someone to kick the ball to the end zone and that wasn’t me.”

I talked to Kramer a couple of years ago after Robinson was inducted into Canton. Kramer told me about being with No. 89 in New Orleans (the site of Super Bowl XLVII) the night before Robinson heard that he was actually selected for a bust in Canton.

“Robby and I and some friends went to dinner at Commander’s Palace on Friday night and we just had an incredible dinner,” Kramer said. “The folks that ran the place came over and fussed over us a little bit, and then they started bringing us over shrimp, craw fish, pompano and this and that, and we just had a great time. I toasted Robby about his induction during the dinner and there were 13 of us there, and Robby teared up a little bit. It was a nice moment.”

Here’s hoping that Robinson can return the favor to Kramer in the very near future, because No. 64 has waited far too long for his rightful induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Why Montee Ball Could End Up a Member of the Green Bay Packers

After first making the Denver Broncos 53-man roster this past Saturday, running back Montee Ball was placed on waivers on Sunday.

No team in the NFL claimed him on waivers, so the former Wisconsin Badger is now a free agent.

One possible landing spot is the Green Bay Packers.

Why is that? There are a number of reasons.

For one thing, backup running back James Starks will be an unrestricted free agent in 2016.

Also, the Packers searched long and hard to find a third running back this summer in training camp. It was a very spirited battle between Rajion Neal, John Crockett and Alonzo Harris.

All of those backs flashed some real talent this summer, but in the end the Packers decided to go with Harris as the third back. Crockett was put on the practice squad, while Neal ended up signing with the Miami Dolphins and was put on their practice squad.

Ted Thompson and the Packers have always been enamored with Ball. As Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote earlier this summer, the Packers had narrowed it down to Ball and running back Eddie Lacy in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.

The Packers had the 55th selection of the draft in the second round and when they saw that both Ball and Lacy were still on the board, they traded back six spots figuring that one of the two backs would be there at pick No. 61.

The Packers were right, as Lacy was still on the board. Ball was selected by the Broncos with pick No. 58.

Thompson went to the Wisconsin pro day and actually talked with Ball after his workout.

“He [Thompson] just talked to me about all the good stuff that I’ve been doing on tape,” Ball said. “He said, ‘You know how to play football. You’ve been doing the right things.’ And he’s very excited about it.”

Ball did have brilliant track record for Thompson to be impressed with. As a Badger, Ball rushed for 5,040 yards, plus had 58 receptions for 591 more yards.

He also has the FBS all-time touchdown record with 82 touchdowns. Seventy-six of those touchdowns were by rushing, which also is an all-time FBS record.

As a pro, Ball didn’t have the same impact with the Broncos. Injuries were part of the problem, especially a nagging groin injury in 2014.

In two years with the Broncos, Ball rushed for 731 yards and five touchdowns, while he also caught 29 passes for 207 more yards.

The other problem Ball had in Denver was his competition at running back. When Ball went out with his injury woes, the Broncos found that they had two very talented backups in C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman.

Anderson is now the clear No. 1 back in Denver, while Hillman had an excellent preseason and is entrenched at the No. 2 spot.

The bottom line is that Ball is not yet even 25 years old. The Packers were once pretty smitten with the former Badger, and I would not be surprised if the Packers at least give him a tryout.

The Packers like to keep these type of things under the radar, which is exactly what they did when they signed Julius Peppers back in the spring of 2014.

I surmised that the Packers might be interested in Peppers, when I wrote this piece for Bleacher Report.

The Packers kept a low profile and ended up signing Peppers later the same week I wrote my story.

I’m not saying the same thing will happen with Ball, but based on recent history, we know the Packers liked No. 28 coming out of Wisconsin.

Things have been pretty quiet for Ball since his release on Sunday. That’s just the way the Packers like to do business.

Under the radar.

The Packers Can Even Up the All-Time Series with the Bears in 2015

The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears have been playing each other in the NFL since 1921. The Bears hold 92-90-6 edge in the regular season while the teams are 1-1 in the postseason.

The Packers can even up the series in the 2015 season if they can sweep the two games versus the Monsters of the Midway.

It’s been a long, long time since the Packers were ahead in this series. It’s been 83 years as a matter of fact. The Packers held a 11-10-4 edge after the 1932 season.

The Bears swept the Packers in 1933 by winning three games and the Packers have been trying to catch the Bears ever since.

The Packers have been able to narrow the margin with the Bears thanks to the play of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. In the 23 years that those two quarterbacks have played against the Bears, the two have combined to have a 33-13 record versus Chicago.

The Packers have won 11 NFC Central/North titles in that time, plus have won two Super Bowls, while da Bears have won four NFC Central/North titles.

Favre was 22-10 versus the Bears in his career in Green Bay, while Rodgers has been even better than that. No. 12 is 11-3 against Chicago (plus 1-0 in the NFC title game).

In 14 regular season games, Rodgers has thrown 31 touchdown passes versus just eight picks for 3,448 yards. That adds up to a 109.8 passer rating.

Another quarterback for the Packers has also done very well against the Bears. That would be Bart Starr, who was 15-5 against Chicago.

Jerry Kramer told me a story about Starr when the Packers were facing the Bears early in the Vince Lombardi era.

“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.”

Starr and the Packers won five NFL titles in seven years under Lombardi, which included the first two Super Bowls.

The Bears did win the 1963 NFL title, however. Chicago was 11-1-2 that season, while the Packers were 11-2-1. Starr only played against the Bears once that year due to a broken hand. That injury cost No. 15 four games that season.

Would Starr have been the difference in the second game in 1963, a 26-7 loss at Wrigley Field? We will never know.

Another reason that the Packers have come so close to evening the series with the Bears is their domination at Soldier Field in Chicago recently.

That storied site is where the Packers and Bears will open the 2015 season this upcoming Sunday.

Since 1992, the Packers have won 17 of 22 regular season games at Soldier Field. The Pack also won the 2010 NFC Championship Game there.

If the Packers can beat the Bears this upcoming Sunday, it will mean the Packers can even up the series on Thanksgiving night when the Bears come to Lambeau Field.

That is the night in which Favre will have his retired No. 4 formally unveiled on the facade at the legendary stadium.

It will be quite the atmosphere that evening. It will be the first time the Packers have hosted a Thanksgiving game since 1923, when the Hammond Pros came to Bellevue Park in Green Bay.

Plus, there will be the ceremony honoring Favre.

Rodgers will also be playing in the game.

And Starr is determined to be there as well, as he continues to battle through some severe medical issues. About a year ago, Starr suffered a heart attack, two strokes and four seizures.

Ian O’Connor of ESPN recently wrote a heartwarming story about Starr and the nice progress he has been making with his health.

Yes, Thanksgiving night in Green Bay will be special for many reasons.

One of them might be the Packers evening up the series with the Bears for the first time since 1933.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Henry Jordan

When Vince Lombardi was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, he proved that he was the best coach to ever grace the sidelines in NFL history.

In nine years as head coach, Lombardi led the Packers to a  89-24-4 record in the regular season, plus his team won six Western Conference titles.

The Packers were even better in the postseason under Lombardi. The Pack was 9-1 and won five NFL championships in seven years. That also included winning three straight NFL titles in 1965, 1966 and 1967. No team in the modern era of the NFL has ever duplicated that.

In addition to all that, the Packers won the first two Super Bowls with Lombardi as their coach. Is it any wonder that the Super Bowl Trophy is named after him?

But as good a Lombardi was as a head coach, he was also very astute as a general manager. He made a number of key acquisitions which helped make the team a championship contender year after year.

One of those acquisitions was defensive tackle Henry Jordan. Lombardi acquired Jordan in 1959 from the Cleveland Browns for just a fourth-round draft pick in 1960.

A year later, Lombardi made a trade with the Browns again, this time acquiring defensive end Willie Davis for end A.D. Williams.

A couple of shrewd trades, huh? Lombardi netted two players who would one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It should also be noted that Paul Brown, the legendary coach of the Browns is the person who made those two trades with Lombardi. Brown, along with George Halas of the Chicago Bears, both gave strong endorsements for Lombardi when the Packers were searching for a new head coach in 1959.

David Maraniss writes about that scenario in his classic book about Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered.

Jordan turned out to be everything Lombardi he imagined he could be. Although not real big at 6’2″, 248-pounds, No. 74 was exceptionally quick at defensive tackle.

Jordan was named first-team All-Pro five times and was also named to four Pro Bowl teams.

The former University of Virginia star also came up big in the postseason. In the five postseason games that the Packers played after the 1966 and 1967 seasons, Jordan had six sacks.

Most notable was the 1967 Western Conference Championship Game at County Stadium in Milwaukee when the Packers faced the Los Angeles Rams. It appeared like Jordan had quarterback Roman Gabriel of the Rams as a dance partner, as he had his arms around Gabriel so much. No. 74 had 3.5 sacks in that game in which the Packers won 28-7.

Jerry Kramer knew Jordan very well. They were friends and neighbors in Green Bay. No. 64 reflected about some of his memories of Jordan.

“Henry was a very bright fellow,” Kramer said. “He had extreme quickness. He was small for a defensive tackle, but he had great quickness and he survived on his quickness. He was also pretty strong, but his quickness was outstanding.

“Henry also had a great sense of humor. His most famous saying was that Lombardi treats us all the same, ‘like dogs.’

“Henry was just a really good pal. Because we lived so close to each other, we did a lot of things together. We went to dinner together. His wife Olive was like a Mother Teresa kind of lady. She always had a sandwich, a bowl of soup or an extra plate for dinner for whoever would drop by.”

Kramer also talked about how well Jordan did in the business community.

“Henry took over Summerfest in Milwaukee when it was still floundering. They didn’t have a lot of sponsors at the time. Maybe 25 or 30 sponsors. They were losing money as well. Two years later after Henry took over, they had between 400 to 500 sponsors and the event was doing very well. That was due to Henry Jordan.”

Jordan died tragically at age 42 in Milwaukee in 1977 while he was working out.

Kramer remembers where he was when he heard the sad news.

“I was down in Costa Rica in the jungles on the Pacific coast,” Kramer said. “I was down there fishing on the Colorado River and I didn’t hear about Henry’s passing for two or three days after his funeral was over. I missed his funeral and I’ve always felt bad about that.”

Kramer also talked about another reason why Jordan was so effective at defensive tackle.

“If you would start guessing with Henry, you would get in trouble,” Kramer said. “He was so damn quick. He was a little like Artie Donovan in that he would read you a little bit and give you a move and go.

“Plus Henry was a NCAA wrestling champ or close to it at Virginia, so he used the things that made him a great wrestler when he got to the NFL. Things like strength and quickness, plus by using leverage at the right time.”

Jordan was recognized for what he had done in the NFL in 1995, when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, after being a finalist in 1976 and 1984.

It sure would be appropriate if his Green Bay friend and neighbor, Jerry Kramer, would receive that same prestigious honor in the very near future.

No. 64 rightfully deserves it.

A Scout’s Take on Rookie Quarterback Brett Hundley of the Green Bay Packers

Rookie quarterback Brett Hundley of the Green Bay Packers has been lights out this preseason under center. No. 7 has put together an unbelievable stat line.

Hundley was 16 of 23 for 236 yards and four touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints last night in a 38-10 victory at Lambeau Field. That adds up to a 142.4 passer rating.

Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played the entire first half versus the No. 1 defense of the Eagles and then another quarter against the reserves, Hundley threw for 315 yards and two more touchdowns.

The former UCLA Bruin also threw a pick-six against the Eagles, but that was because tight end Richard Rodgers fell down as the pass was heading his way.

All told, Hundley has posted a passer rating of 129.7 based on 45 completions on 65 attempts for 630 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception this preseason.

Head coach Mike McCarthy is impressed with the rookie, as he talked to the media after the game.

“We knew when we drafted him there was a lot there to work with,” said McCarthy. “He has a lot to learn, but it’s been exciting watching him get off to a good start.”

At UCLA, Hundley put up some terrific numbers. In three years as a starting quarterback, Hundley threw 75 touchdown passes versus 25 interceptions for 9,966 yards.

Besides the great numbers through the air, Hundley also ran for 1,747 yards and 30 touchdowns.

With stats like those, one would expect Hundley to be a sure-fire first round pick in the NFL. But Hundley lasted until the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft, when Ted Thompson of the Packers selected him.

Why the drop off?

Hundley had some serious flaws in his fundamentals. He needed changes in footwork for one thing. He also had to learn new terminology, plus be able to make reads, which was not a strong point of his in college. Basically, Hundley needed an overall change in his mechanics.

In addition to all that, Hundley had never taken a snap under center in all of his time at UCLA.

Earlier this week I had another opportunity to speak with NFL scout Chris Landry on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show.

I talked to Landry on Wednesday, which was the day before the game against the Saints, but the game versus the Eagles was there for Landry to review.

“He looked well [speaking of Hundley’s performance against the Eagles],” Landry said. “But he’s a major project for pocket presence and awareness. He’s got a long way to go.

“But he’s working with a couple of the best quarterback teachers around and not much is expected of him. It’s a great situation to be in to learn from one of the best quarterbacks [Aaron Rodgers] in the league, if not the best. And to be able to be brought along slowly is the key.

“You learn things the right way. The Big Dog [Duemig] taught golf for years and was an assistant pro, and he would tell you that sometimes it’s better to start over and break it down and do it correctly.

“You can build off that foundation. I think Brett’s one of those guys whose fundamentals need to be corrected a great deal. Could you imagine if he was somewhere where he was having to compete [to be a starting quarterback]? I think that would retard his progress because he would revert back trying to do things the way he was always taught to do.”

Landry brings up some excellent points there. Unlike Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Bucs and Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans, Hundley will not have to be the starting quarterback this year.

Hundley can learn from his coaches about the right way to do things in the NFL. He can also learn a great deal from watching the play of Rodgers, just as Rodgers did while he watched Brett Favre for three years as a backup quarterback.

Plus Hundley can also learn from second-string quarterback Scott Tolzien.

Rodgers was taught the same way by McCarthy and his coaches. Some of the tendencies that he had as a quarterback for Cal were changed as No. 12 learned the correct way to play in the NFL.

The coaching staff made similar changes with Tolzien and his mechanics as well.

Rodgers has become the highest-rated quarterback in the history of the NFL. He has also won two NFL MVP awards, as well as being the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, when the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Time will tell what type of future Hundley will have in the NFL when it is his time to start. Even with the excellent beginning of his career in Green Bay, No. 7 still has a great deal to learn.

But the future definitely looks bright for Hundley, that is for sure.