A couple of weeks or so before Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers was nominated as a senior candidate by the Seniors Selection Committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 23, Peter King of SI’s MMQB wrote this as part of his answer in a mailbag chat with one of his readers who asked about Kramer and his possible enshrinement in Canton:
Finally, a few years ago, I asked Bart Starr if there was anyone else he thought had been forgotten unjustly in the Hall process, and he said left tackle Bob Skoronski. He was effusive in his praise of Skoronski. I asked him if he wanted to mention anyone else, and he said no. Did he forget Kramer? I suppose it’s possible. But I gave him his chance, and he didn’t mention Kramer.
This was not the first time King has brought up the conversation he had with Starr.
That is why I wanted to get in touch with Bart Starr, Jr. to see if that statement to King by his father was misinterpreted.
In talking to Bart Jr., he told me that his dad may have indeed misunderstood King’s question. Starr may have mentioned Bob Skoronski, because he felt that No. 76 was one of the unsung teammates of his who he felt deserved a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In terms of Jerry Kramer, Starr had always felt that No. 64 deserved a place in Canton and should have been inducted decades ago. To Starr, that was always a given.
Bart Jr. also mentioned that his father had been suffering from some memory loss and dementia issues around the time of this interview, which also may explain his response to King.
Starr, who is now 83, was debilitated in September 2014 by two strokes and a heart attack.
Since that time, Starr has received stem cell treatment, which has definitely helped No. 15 in his rehab process. Starr is now able to speak and walk, after being at first being confined to a wheelchair due to the effects of the stroke.
That treatment and other arduous rehabilitation allowed Starr to travel from Alabama to Wisconsin to honor Brett Favre on Thanksgiving night in 2015, when the Packers played the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
When Starr made his appearance at halftime of the game to salute Favre, it was a very emotional setting, especially knowing what Starr had overcome to just to be in Green Bay.
When I talked to Jerry Kramer about seeing that moment, he recalled it vividly.
“The thing about that setting at Lambeau on Thanksgiving that made my heart go pitty-pat, was when Bart got out of the cart to say hello to Brett,” Kramer said. “And he said, ‘Hey Mister. How are you doing, Brett?’
“That term Mister, was what Coach Lombardi you to say when he wanted to chew our ass. As in, “Mister, what in the hell are you doing?’ In the last 10 years or so, Bart has adopted that Mister term as a greeting.
“To me, hearing him say that to Brett, told me that not only was his mind working, but his memory was working as well. That really got me pretty emotional.”
In terms of Starr’s current health, the former Alabama Crimson Tide star had a setback about six months ago, but Bart Jr. told me that his father is now at the highest point he has been at this year in terms of his health.
Which is why Starr is planning to make another trip to Green Bay next weekend when the Packers play the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame will be hosting a special 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Hall of Fame Saturday, Oct., 21, in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
In addition to that, the event also will honor the Packers’ 1967 championship team. A number of players from that team will be at the event, which now includes Starr, as well as Kramer, Chuck Mercein, Dave Robinson, Boyd Dowler, Carroll Dale, Ken Bowman, Zeke Bratkowski, Bob Long and Marv Fleming.
From talking with Kramer and Mercein recently, they were thrilled and elated that Starr might also be at the event.
Back now to Starr’s comments to King from a number of years ago. When I talked to Bart Jr., I wanted to see if he might be able to address that issue with King.
Yesterday, I received a text from Bart Jr. that certainly does speak to that issue.
Hi Bob- Peter may be pleased to know that today we mailed a letter to the Hall of Fame on behalf of Jerry. Dad’s endorsement could not have been stronger or more sincere. Our entire family has been among Jerry’s greatest admirers for more than 50 years, and we look forward to celebrating with the Kramer family in Canton.
Thank you and very best wishes,
Bart Starr, Jr.
That celebration will be one for the ages, as Kramer will be joining Starr, as well as other teammates like Robinson, Jim Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo, Paul Hornung, Willie Wood and Henry Jordan as having forever a place among the best of the best in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kramer will also be joining the man who made it all possible for he and his teammates, head coach Vince Lombardi.
Yes, it will be quite the celebration on that August summer day in Canton in 2018. You can be very sure, that I also plan on being there for that epic event.