Over the past week, a couple of Pro Football Hall of Fame members have spoken out on behalf of wide receiver Terrell Owens and his rightful enshrinement in Canton. One was former Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Lofton, as well as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.
There is no denying that Owens put up some monster statistics in his career in the NFL, but he has also been labeled a bad teammate, as well as a player who never helped lead his team to a NFL title.
That is probably why there has been push back on his induction the past couple of years.
Compare that to Jerry Kramer. Now it’s hard to compare a position player to a lineman, but Kramer truly was a great player, not only in the regular season, but also under the bright lights of the postseason, when his Packers under head coach Vince Lombardi, won five NFL championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls.
Kramer played a leading role in the victories in three of those championship games, which were the 1962, 1965 and 1967 NFL title games.
When Kramer was done playing in the NFL after the 1968 season, he was recognized for his great play, as he was named to the 1960s All-Decade team, plus was also named to the very prestigious NFL 50th anniversary team, as he was the only guard on the first team.
Even with all that, Kramer still awaits his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And unlike Owens, Kramer was the epitome of being a great teammate.
While Owens has received a few endorsements from current Pro Football Hall of Fame members, Kramer has received several from players he played with and against from his era who now have busts in Canton.
Here are some just some of those testimonials that Kramer has received.
“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.” – Merlin Olsen HOF 1982
“Jerry Kramer belongs in the Hall of Fame, and quite frankly, I thought he was already inducted.” – Frank Gifford HOF 1977
“Jerry Kramer is a fine man and a great football player. He is the type of player and person I feel strongly should also be numbered among the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame.” – Bob Lilly HOF 1980
“Jerry Kramer should have been in the Pro Hall of Fame many years ago.” – Doug Atkins HOF 1982
“I support the nomination of Jerry Kramer as an inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jerry Kramer was a great football player and very deserving of this honor.” – Alan Page HOF 1988
“When I think about all of the players not in the HOF, the one that mystifies me the most is Jerry Kramer. I don’t understand why he hasn’t, as yet been selected. In an NFL interview, Hall of Fame Vice President Joe Horrigan stated that Jerry accounts for about one-fourth of his mail on a daily basis.
“When you think of the Packers of the 60’s, you remember Lombardi at the blackboard describing the seal of the sweep. Getting that seal was the job of the guards and Jerry was the best at that particular skill. It was his agility and his speed to get out there and make that block that really made the Packer sweep effective.” – Bob St. Claire HOF 1990
“It’s difficult for me to understand why Jerry has not been inducted by now. Considering the offensive linemen already enshrined, Jerry should certainly have a place.” – Joe Schmidt HOF 1973
“I was truly shocked that Jerry was not a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. I know personally that there was no one better at his position.” – Gino Marchetti HOF 1972
“We who played with him in Pro Bowls and against him in our careers, vote 100% for Jerry to join us in the Hall of Fame where he belongs.” – John Mackey HOF 1992
“To the Senior Selection Committee: this is to remind you of Jerry Kramer and to put in a good word on his behalf.” – Raymond Berry HOF 1973
“I firmly believe that Jerry Kramer deserves to be in the Hall.” – Mel Renfro HOF 1996
“Jerry Kramer is a Hall of Famer. The Packers would not have been the greatest team in history, if they would not have had Jerry.” – Mike Ditka HOF 1988
“A lot of folks deserve to be in the Pro Football Hall of fame, none more so than Jerry Kramer.” – Chris Hanburger HOF 2011
“You have my vote for Jerry for this upcoming class.” – Jim Otto HOF 1980
“He was the best in football when I started playing Professionally, and it was his example that I emulated. He belongs with us so let us make his senior candidacy a reality.” – Tom Mack HOF 1999
“I think players that somehow had a big impact on the game deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Jerry belongs there for what he did.” – Dave Wilcox HOF 2000
“I am recommending Jerry Kramer as a candidate for membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jerry’s stats and awards speaks volumes. He was a very fine player.” – Lem Barney HOF 1992
“I have played against Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers on numerous occasions. I am highly recommending him for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” – Chuck Bednarik HOF 1967
“His stats alone do not reveal the respect or dominance Jerry produced as an NFL lineman. Jerry is exactly the representation the HOF embodies.” – Tommy McDonald HOF 1998
“Jerry truly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I respectfully request your consideration for a guy who has earned every right to be in Canton.” – Willie Davis HOF 1981
“When you think of Hall of Fame guards, very few come to mind. But when I think of great guards, I think of Jerry Kramer.
“When you look at Green Bay’s success in the 1960’s, you can’t mention Vince Lombardi, Ray Nitschke, Bart Starr, Jimmy Taylor, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Jim Ringo, Willie Wood and Forrest Gregg and leave out Jerry Kramer. He is the perfect prototype of right guard.
“Jerry Kramer was on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team at guard and every member of that team is in the Hall except him. That is just unbelievable!
“To conclude my opinion on how the Hall of Fame is keeping Jerry Kramer locked out, I will have to quote Vince Lombardi once more…
“What the hell is going on out here?!” – Paul Hornung HOF 1986
You can see all of these testimonials and many more in this great book put together by Randy Simon.
The bottom line is Jerry Kramer was the best of the best in the NFL as a right guard with the Packers in the 1960s.
That is why he was honored and put on the 1960s All-Decade team, as well as the NFL 50th anniversary team.
And that’s also why he has all these great endorsements from his peers who have already made it into Canton.
I’ll leave you with one final endorsement for Kramer. This comes from Jack Youngblood (HOF 2001) of the Los Angeles Rams, who was a teammate of Merlin Olsen, who many consider the best defensive tackle in NFL history (14 Pro Bowls and nine first-team All-Pro honors).
“If any man has been overlooked for induction, Jerry Kramer is the one. My teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen said: ‘Good Lord, he should be in the Hall.’ I couldn’t have said it better.”