Jerry Kramer’s Nomination for the Pro Football Hall of Fame: ‘A Wonderful Honor’

Vince and Jerry after Super Bowl II

The moment that so many people had been waiting for actually happened on Thursday afternoon, August 24. Yes, right guard Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers was nominated by the Seniors Selection Committee for possible induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Besides Kramer, linebacker Robert Brazile of the Houston Oilers was also nominated as a senior candidate. On Friday, former Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard was named as a contributor nominee.

Kramer, Brazile and Beathard immediately became finalists for enshrinement in Canton. The modern group of finalists is yet to be determined. The entire group will be voted on by the 48 members of the entire Selection Committee of the Hall of Fame on February 3, the day before Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

This process has been a long road for Kramer, who is now a finalist for the 11th time, but only the second time as a senior candidate.

I tried to lay out the reasons why Kramer deserved to be a senior nominee this year in a recent story, as I wrote a presentation piece as to why No. 64 should be one of the two senior candidates.

Here is part of what I wrote:

In 1969, Jerry was named the best player ever at the guard position in the first 50 years of the NFL, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame named their NFL 50th anniversary team.

The first team consisted of Jim Thorpe, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, John Mackey, Chuck Bednarik, Gino Marchetti, Leo Nomellini, Ray Nitschke, Dick “Night Train” Lane, Emlen Tunnell, Lou Groza and Kramer.

Every one of the members on that legendary team are now enshrined as players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All except one. That would be Mr. Kramer.

Plus, let’s not forget that Kramer was also named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s.

Looking back on the players who were named First-Team All-Decade through the year 2000, there were 145 players who were given that designation.

And up until now, 134 of those players have been inducted into the hallowed halls in Canton.

Kramer is one of those 11 First-Team All-Decade players who have yet to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Now looking back on Kramer’s career with the Packers, No. 64 was a six-time AP All-Pro and was also named to three Pro Bowls for the Packers. Kramer would have had even more honors if not for injuries and illness. Kramer missed half of the 1961 season due to a broken ankle and almost all of the 1964 season due to an intestinal ailment which took nine operations to resolve.

Kramer also played a large role in the success that the Packers had under head coach Vince Lombardi in the postseason. The Packers were 9-1 under Lombardi in the postseason, which included five NFL championships in seven years. That included victories in the first two Super Bowls.

Kramer was a huge component in the NFL title victories in 1962, 1965 and 1967.

In the 1962 NFL Championship Game versus the New York Giants at very cold and windy Yankee Stadium, Kramer doubled as a right guard and as placekicker. Kramer 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.

jerry-in-the-65-title-game

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.

Taylor and halfback Paul Hornung led a rushing attack that gained 204 yards, 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 as the Packers gained big chunks of yardage past the line of scrimmage.

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” made his way into the end zone.

Then came the 1967 NFL Championship Game (better known as the “Ice Bowl”) versus the Cowboys at frigid Lambeau Field. In that legendary contest, 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.

It all came down to 13 seconds to go with no timeouts at the 1-yard line of the Cowboys.

Quarterback Bart 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 consistent success of those great Green Bay teams under Lombardi, there are two points which certainly have to be made.

The power sweep was obviously 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.

Kramer played a prominent role in both of those instances.

Finally, besides being named to the NFL 50th anniversary team and being named All-Decade in the 1960s, Kramer also has the respect and admiration of many of his peers who he played with and against during his era.

Peers who now have busts in Canton.

Kramer has been endorsed by legendary defensive tackles such as Merlin Olsen and Bob Lilly, who were not only All-Decade in the 1960s, but also in the 1970s. Kramer was also endorsed by Alan Page, who was named All-Decade in the 1970s.

Kramer was really honored with the endorsement he received from Olsen, as Merlin was the finest defensive tackle he ever faced. In fact, there are many who believe Olsen was the best defensive tackle in NFL history.

Olsen went to 14 Pro Bowls, plus 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.”

Kramer has also been endorsed by other contemporaries who are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Kramer has been recommended for the Hall of Fame by teammates like Starr, Hornung and Willie Davis, along with opponents like Frank Gifford, Chuck Bednarik, Doug Atkins, Joe Schmidt, John Mackey, Raymond Berry, Mel Renfro, Mike Ditka, Jim Otto, Tom Mack, Dave Wilcox, Tommy McDonald and Lem Barney.

he absolute proudest endorsement Kramer ever received came from his head coach.

This is what Vince Lombardi said about Kramer in a 1969 article in the Chicago Tribune:

“Jerry Kramer is the best guard in the league,” Lombardi said. “Some say the best in the history of the game.”

Jerry pulling in Super Bowl I

I do know from talking with Rick Gosselin, who was at the Seniors Selection Committee meeting on Thursday, that he along with Bernie Miklasz, were the two people responsible for convincing the other three members of the committee gathered in Canton that day that Kramer deserved to be one of the two nominees.

I also talked with Kramer himself and he shared his thoughts about how this all went down. My first question was where Kramer was when he heard the news.

“I was having lunch,” Kramer said. “Chad Ovitt from Kenosha called me. I had done an autograph session for Chad on Sunday. Chad said, ‘Congratulations!’ And I said, ‘For what?’ He said, ‘The nomination.’

“I was caught a bit off-guard, as I was somewhat aware of this situation, but I made it a point to not focus on it. Not to pay a lot of attention to it. Not to participate. And to not get all worked up emotionally about it.

“When I put my phone down after I hung up with Chad, I saw I missed a couple of calls from David Baker (President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame). And I couldn’t believe it. It really did happen!”

Kramer related his thoughts to me about the conversation he had with Baker about his nomination.

“I had a nice chat with David and others in the room,” Kramer said. “There were congratulations all around. My stomach was doing flip-flops. My heart was pounding a bit. It was sort of surreal setting. Like is this real? Is this my imagination again or am I really on the phone with David Baker, thanking him for selecting me as a nominee?

“I had played that scenario in my head a number of times. Sometimes, I got real nasty and would tell them to stick it in their ear. And sometimes I’m very polite, thoughtful and considerate and all that. I go back and forth depending on my mood I guess.

“But when the moment came, I became all wishy-washy, all gooey and all emotional with them on the phone. I allowed my emotions to come out. I gushed a little bit. It was really a wonderful moment for me. I thanked them and thanked them and thanked them.

“All the bad and the negative stuff I might have said didn’t appear. It was all thank you and I appreciate it. And what a wonderful honor this is. I was just very happy about it all and the negative guy didn’t show up and didn’t even get in the room.”

The people who Kramer talked with included Baker, Gosselin and the other committee members, consultants Art Shell and Carl Eller, plus Executive Director for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Joe Horrigan.

During the conversation, Horrigan told Kramer, “Jerry, this will reduce my mail by 90 percent!”

As we talked, Kramer made it a point to thank all of his fans, especially those in America’s Dairyland.

“Wisconsin fans are absolutely sensational,” Kramer said. “You can’t define them well enough for people to understand how wonderful they are and how wonderful they have been to me. Specifically over the years. We are still having that love affair.”

Kramer also mentioned how his phone has been blowing up with calls of congratulations from so many people.

“There are so many people who have come forward with congratulations, best wishes and all kind of things,” Kramer said. “It’s heartwarming. Especially at this particular point in time in my life.

“To have so many people weigh-in and say, ‘Hell of a job’ or ‘Congratulations’ mean a lot to me. You can feel their happiness. They are pleased just like they were nominated. In a sense, they were. They were part of the process, writing letters and they helped. It is really a state-wide, nation-wide and even world-wide effort on behalf of these people.”

Still, the job has not been completed just yet. Kramer needs to get at least 39 members of the 48-person Selection Committee to vote for him on February 3 so he can get his rightful place in Canton.

That is the second step of this process. But the first step was taken care of on Thursday, when Kramer was nominated.

Jerry's block on Jethro

In terms of where Kramer is, regarding his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, using an analogy, the ball is now inside the one yard line with just seconds remaining in the game. It’s definitely time to call the 31-wedge play.

It will be very apropos that 50 years and basically a little over a month after that famous play was called on December 31, 1967, that Kramer finds himself in the end zone once again.

But this time the end zone will be an entrance to be among the best of the best in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

My Presentation for Jerry Kramer to the Seniors Selection Committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017

Jerry on a knee

On August 24th, five members of the Seniors Selection Committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame will meet in Canton, Ohio to discuss and then name two senior candidates for possible induction.

The entire class of 2018 (including two senior nominees and one contributor nominee)  will be voted on the day before Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

One of the five members who will be present for the meeting is Rick Gosselin. I’ve have gotten to know Gosselin over the past few years and he has really educated me on how difficult the process is for naming senior candidates.

All that being said, although I will not be in actual attendance, my story below is written like I was doing a presentation for Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers for the committee. Having a background in sales, I have done dozens of presentations to numerous businesses.

I normally would hand out an agenda to the members of the company or corporation I would be presenting to and then do a PowerPoint presentation.

I would do the same with this committee if possible, but for this piece, I will just give you my verbal presentation with some photos.

Good morning. I appreciate you allotting me some time for my presentation today.

I know you folks have to go through a very difficult process before you can name a senior nominee or nominees.

I have been able to become acquainted with one of your committee members, Rick Gosselin, over the past few years and he has explained to me how extremely arduous your course of action is in determining a senior nominee, due to all the many worthy candidates who somehow have fallen through the cracks over the years.

Rick has told me about the proposal he has made to David Baker (President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame) about nominating several senior candidates in the centennial season of the NFL.

I had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Baker earlier this year and we discussed Rick’s proposal. Mr. Baker told me that he was definitely considering Rick’s recommendation. That would be fabulous if that comes to fruition and that a number of deserving seniors get their rightful inclusion into the Hall of Fame.

This morning, I want to talk to you about a very worthy senior candidate…Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers.

In 1969, Jerry was named the best player ever at the guard position in the first 50 years of the NFL, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame named their NFL 50th anniversary team.

The first team consisted of Jim Thorpe, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, John Mackey, Chuck Bednarik, Gino Marchetti, Leo Nomellini, Ray Nitschke, Dick “Night Train” Lane, Emlen Tunnell, Lou Groza and Kramer.

Every one of the members on that legendary team are now enshrined as players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All except one. That would be Mr. Kramer.

As I am a regular reader of Mr. Gosselins’s fine work, I recall a statement by him regarding Kramer’s omission in one of his chats with his readers.

Jerry pulling in Super Bowl I

Rick told 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?”

In addition to that, Rick recently wrote a story, as he conducted a poll on his fine site, Talk of Fame Network. The poll was about who was the most deserving senior candidate in 2018.

Rick’s candidates in the poll included quarterback Ken Anderson of the Cincinnati Bengals, linebacker Robert Brazile of the Houston Oilers, defensive tackle Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions, defensive lineman Joe Klecko of the New York Jets, defensive end Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings, safety Johnny Robinson of the Kansas City Chiefs, linebacker Andy Russell of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kramer of the Packers.

The poll story ran about a week and Kramer won in a landslide, as he received 86 percent of the vote. I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you, as I’m sure everyone of you have received  hundreds of letters or notes from fans endorsing Kramer’s induction to Canton.

Plus, let’s not forget that Kramer was also named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s.

Looking back on the players who were named First-Team All-Decade through the year 2000, there were 145 players who were given that designation.

And up until now, 134 of those players have been inducted into the hallowed halls in Canton.

Kramer is one of those 11 First-Team All-Decade players who have yet to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Now looking back on Kramer’s career with the Packers, No. 64 was a six-time AP All-Pro and was also named to three Pro Bowls for the Packers. Kramer would have had even more honors if not for injuries and illness. Kramer missed half of the 1961 season due to a broken ankle and almost all of the 1964 season due to an intestinal ailment which took nine operations to resolve.

Kramer also played a large role in the success that the Packers had under head coach Vince Lombardi in the postseason. The Packers were 9-1 under Lombardi in the postseason, which included five NFL championships in seven years. That included victories in the first two Super Bowls.

Kramer was a huge component in the NFL title victories in 1962, 1965 and 1967.

In the 1962 NFL Championship Game versus the New York Giants at very cold and windy Yankee Stadium, Kramer doubled as a right guard and as placekicker. Kramer 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.

Taylor and halfback Paul Hornung led a rushing attack that gained 204 yards, 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 as the Packers gained big chunks of yardage past the line of scrimmage.

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” made his way into the end zone.

Then came the 1967 NFL Championship Game (better known as the “Ice Bowl”) versus the Cowboys at frigid Lambeau Field. In that legendary contest, 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.

It all came down to 13 seconds to go with no timeouts at the 1-yard line of the Cowboys.

Quarterback Bart 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.

Jerry's block on Jethro

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 consistent success of those great Green Bay teams under Lombardi, there are two points which certainly have to be made.

The power sweep was obviously 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.

Kramer played a prominent role in both of those instances.

Finally, besides being named to the NFL 50th anniversary team and being named All-Decade in the 1960s, Kramer also has the respect and admiration of many of his peers who he played with and against during his era.

Peers who now have busts in Canton.

Kramer has been endorsed by legendary defensive tackles such as Merlin Olsen and Bob Lilly, who were not only All-Decade in the 1960s, but also in the 1970s. Kramer was also endorsed by Alan Page, who was named All-Decade in the 1970s.

Kramer was really honored with the endorsement he received from Olsen, as Merlin was the finest defensive tackle he ever faced. In fact, there are many who believe Olsen was the best defensive tackle in NFL history.

Olsen went to 14 Pro Bowls, plus 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.”

Kramer has also been endorsed by other contemporaries who are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Kramer has been recommended for the Hall of Fame by teammates like Starr, Hornung and Willie Davis, along with opponents like Frank Gifford, Chuck Bednarik, Doug Atkins, Joe Schmidt, John Mackey, Raymond Berry, Mel Renfro, Mike Ditka, Jim Otto, Tom Mack, Dave Wilcox, Tommy McDonald and Lem Barney.

Vince and Jerry after Super Bowl II

The absolute proudest endorsement Kramer ever received came from his head coach.

This is what Vince Lombardi said about Kramer in a 1969 article in the Chicago Tribune:

“Jerry Kramer is the best guard in the league,” Lombardi said. “Some say the best in the history of the game.”

In summation, I know that you are going through a very challenging situation here in recommending senior candidates because they are so many worthy ones.

Again, I hope Rick’s proposal about having a number of senior candidates nominated in the NFL centennial year becomes a reality.

But for the Class of 2018, in my humble opinion, there is no senior candidate who can match the achievements, the awards and the success that Jerry Kramer had in his NFL career.

That is why Kramer was named to the NFL 50th anniversary team in 1969 and that is why his head coach called him the best guard in the NFL that same year and perhaps the best of all time.

The bottom line is Jerry Kramer deserves to be one of the two senior candidates who you will nominate this year.

I certainly appreciate your time and your consideration.

Thank you.

Jerry Kramer Ranks the Top 5 Defensive Tackles He Played Against in His Career

Jerry in the '65 title game

Jerry Kramer played right guard and at times as a kicker for 11 seasons for the Green Bay Packers from 1958 through 1968. In those 11 seasons, Kramer was part of five teams under head coach Vince Lombardi which won five NFL titles in seven years, which also included the first two Super Bowls.

In addition to that, the Packers won three straight NFL championships from 1965 through 1967, which makes them the only NFL team to ever accomplish that feat since the playoff era started in the league in 1933.

Kramer was honored for his stellar play at right guard during that era, as he was named AP first-team All-Pro fives times and AP second-team All-Pro once. No. 64 was also named to three Pro Bowl squads.

The former Idaho Vandal star also came up big in championship games, as he played a key role in the victories in the 1962, 1965 and 1967 title games for the Packers.

After his career was over, Kramer received more honors, as he was named as a guard on the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s.

Plus, there was the NFL 50th anniversary team named in 1969. The first team, which consisted of the best players ever at their particular positions, included Jim Thorpe, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, John Mackey, Chuck Bednarik, Gino Marchetti, Leo Nomellini, Ray Nitschke, Dick “Night Train” Lane, Emlen Tunnell, Lou Groza and Kramer.

For some unfathomable reason, Kramer is the only member of that 50th anniversary team who has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

I had an opportunity to talk with Kramer again recently, and I wanted to get Jerry’s take on who were the five-best defensive tackles that No. 64 faced in his career. Here is the rundown of that group according to Kramer:

  1. Merlin Olsen
  2. Alex Karras
  3. Leo Nomellini
  4. Art Donovan
  5. Charlie Krueger

Of that group of five, three (Olsen, Nomellini and Donovan) are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Karras deserves to be in Canton, as does Kramer. Like Kramer, Nomellini was also on the 50th anniversary team.

Nomellini and Donovan were both on the NFL All-Decade team for the 1950s. Olsen and Karras were both on the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s.

Kramer added some commentary on each one of these stalwart opponents who he faced on so many occasions.

Merlin Olsen vs. the Pack

Merlin Olsen

The 6’5″, 270-pound Olsen was named AP first-team All-Pro five times and AP second-team All-Pro four times. In addition, Olsen was named to a whopping 14 Pro Bowls.

“At a Pro Bowl once, Merlin weighed in at 300 pounds,” Kramer said. “Just think about the measurables you were up against versus Merlin. He was 6’5” and close to 300 pounds near the end of the season.

“Add to that, Merlin was a Phi Beta Kappa who had a bright mind and an incredibly competitive spirit. He was smart enough to be a great movie star and smart enough to be a great football player.

“He also had a vibe and an energy about him that just drove him. He never let up. If a game was 65 plays, Merlin was going to come at you 65 times. So with the brains, the physical abilities and the heart, Merlin was just a complete player.

“Merlin and I were great pals. We hung out together. I actually did a sales film with Merlin and Don Shula in the recession of the mid-70s called, Defense, Defense to help companies to better take care of their customers and their business.

“But in terms of being a player, Merlin brought it all day. There was no rest when you were going up against him.”

Alex Karras vs. Pack

Alex Karras

The 6’2″, 248-pound Karras was named AP first-team All-Pro three times and AP second-team All-Pro four times. Plus, Karras was named to four Pro Bowl squads.

“I knew Alex and Merlin very well,” Kramer said. “I studied them. I dreamed about them. I spent hours and hours studying their tendencies. And there was not a hell of a lot of difference between the two of them. Alex was maybe not as consistent as Merlin.

“Alex and I first played against each other in the East-West Shrine Game and we were both on the College All-Star team.

“Alex was very strong in the upper-body. He also had a wrestling background and also had good feet. Alex also brought a lot of emotion when he played. He just hated Green Bay, just like my old buddy Wayne Walker did, who recently passed away. All of the Lions just hated the Packers.

“Alex and I had some great battles that got a bit testy at times, but later we became good friends. Both us of were doing color commentary for CFL games in the ’70s. In our first game together, it didn’t go well, as Alex would say the players were doing this and I’m saying no, that the players were doing this instead. We were basically sniping at each other.

“The next week, as I was trying to get better as a commentator, I was watching the practice of one of the CFL teams. As I’m doing this, Alex walks up and sits down besides me and says somewhat uneasily, ‘We sure had a lot of great games against one another didn’t we?’ And I responded that we sure did.

“I also reminded him of the last game that we played against each other. I was trying a 52-tard field goal and Alex broke through the line and hit me with a forearm right in the chest. As he did that, Alex said, ‘Stick that in your book you ******cker!’

“After Alex heard me tell that story, he sort of blushed, but we both giggled and it broke the ice. From that point on, we became really good pals.”

Leo Nomellini vs. the Pack

Leo Nomellini

The 6’3″, 259-pound Nomellini was named AP first-team All-Pro six times and AP second-team All-Pro once. In addition, Nomellini was named to 10 Pro Bowl teams.

“Leo was also a professional wrestler,” Kramer said. “He was always in great shape. One time he cussed out the officials in a game against us once and he called them every name in the book. I was shocked, as this happened in my first or second year and I was always respectful to the officials.

“Leo had great upper-body strength that made him tough to play against. But he did one thing that made it easier for me to play against him. The San Francisco 49ers ran a 4-3 defense almost exclusively. The only variation from my standpoint, was whether Leo went inside or outside.

“If Leo went inside, the middle linebacker would cover the guard-tackle hole on either side. If Leo went outside, the middle linebacker would cover the center. So as I’m watching film of Leo and the 49er defense, I noticed that Leo normally lines up with his right foot back. But then I also saw a play where Leo put his right foot parallel to his left foot.

“I soon realized that Leo would line up with his feet parallel if he was going outside. But when he went inside, his right foot would be back. That film study by me catching that key made it a bit easier for me to handle Leo. I was a lot more confident in going up against Leo after that.”

Art Donovan vs. the Pack

Art Donovan

The 6’2″, 263-pound Donovan was named AP first-team All-Pro four times and AP second-team All-Pro two times. Plus, Donovan was named to play in four Pro Bowls.

“Most of your NFL defensive tackles are big, strong bull-rushers,” Kramer said. “They don’t dance. Henry Jordan was a dancer. Henry beat you with quickness, not so much with strength. Artie was the same way. He also had quick feet.

“Artie would stand up and wiggle and shake. He was like a matador. He would move back and forth and wait for you to hit him. Then he would dodge you and push you aside with his arms and head towards the quarterback.

“I had never played against a defensive tackle that was a shaker like that. I always went up against big bulls. Now Artie was a big guy, but he could really move. The first time I played against him, I wanted to touch him after the game to see if he was real. Because during the game I lunged at him many times and never touched him.

“I was sat down in the second half of that game against Artie. I studied that film for quite awhile and got better playing against Artie after that. But it was still hard to play against him. You had to wait on him to make his move and eventually he would because he was running out of time.”

Charlie Krueger

Charlie Krueger

The 6’4″, 256-pound Krueger was named AP second-team All-Pro twice and was also named to two Pro Bowl squads.

“Charlie was a Texas A&M boy,” Kramer said. “Charlie was lean and mean. Like Merlin, Charlie would come after you play after play. He just never let up. He never took a play off.

“I remember that when I would pull to the right, Charlie would go down the line instantly. He pulled almost with me. He had great quickness and great reflexes. So I got the idea that on pass blocks sometimes against Charlie, I would throw my right leg and shoulder out like I was pulling and Charlie would be outside the defensive end just like that.

“After that, I went back into normal pass protection mode, but by then Charlie was out of position and couldn’t recover in time to rush the passer. You couldn’t do that with very many guys.

“In Instant Replay, I wrote about Charlie when he and I played together in the College All-Star game. His wife kept calling to find out if Charlie was there. She would ask, ‘Is Charles Krueger thayuh?’ When he finally showed up, we called him, “Charles Krueger thayuh” after that.

“In the book, I talked about my mental preparation going into a game against an opponent. I didn’t want to look at my opponent and I didn’t want to see him. I wanted to build up an anger and emotion. So before we are going to play the 49ers in ’67, I was standing in the tunnel ready to take the field when I felt a presence behind me. Then I heard, ‘Is Gerald Kramer thayuh?’ It was Charlie.

“That completely threw off my mental preparation for the game.”

Kramer went to battle in the trenches many times with Olsen, Karras, Nomellini, Donovan and Krueger. As you have read, Kramer has the highest level of respect for each one of those players.

But the opposite is also true. In fact, the top two defensive tackles who Kramer faced in his career, Olsen and Karras, both endorsed Kramer for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In his endorsement of Kramer to the Hall, Olsen said:

“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.”

Karras said this about Kramer and why he belongs in Canton:

“As you well know, Vince Lombardi was in fact a great coach and won so many games. The reason Lombardi had such an outstanding record was due to the players: Jimmy Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo and Paul Hornung.

“With all the players listed above, someone has been left out. But, why? Jerry Kramer is one player that should never be forgotten. The “best” pulling guard in his time.

“Let’s don’t pass him up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, just because he played with so many greats. Jerry made all of them better.”

Kramer appreciates all of the kudos and endorsements that he has received from all of the great defensive tackles of his era, which also includes Bob Lilly and Alan Page, who also have busts in Canton.

“That’s such a great thing,” Kramer said.  “To know that those guys, guys that I respect, also respected me. It is wonderful to know that. That’s as good as it gets.”

The Many Pro Football Hall of Fame Endorsements for Jerry Kramer

jerry-in-the-65-title-game

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

vince-and-jerry-iii

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.”

Why Jerry Kramer Belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Jerry on a knee

Around the third week of August, the Senior Selection Committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame will make their one and only Senior nomination for possible inclusion for the Class of 2017 in Canton.

Normally there are two Senior candidates nominated, but this year there will be two Contributor nominees, which is part of a five-year temporary process which allows a Contributor- defined as an individual who has “made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching”, a chance to get in the Hall of Fame.

This is the third year of this process, which allows two Contributor finalists in years one (starting with the Class of 2015), three and five, of the next five years. In years two and four of that same period, there will be just one Contributor finalist. At the end of the five-year period, the number of Contributor finalists going forward will be one per year.

To keep the maximum number of nominees elected at no more than eight per year, the Senior finalists will be reduced from two to one per year in years one, three and five of the same five-year period. In years two and four and each year thereafter, there will be two Senior finalists, as is now the practice.

I’ve talked to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, who happens to be on both the Senior Select Committee and the Contributor Committee and he disagrees with this current process. Gosselin believes that there are far too many Senior candidates who deserve a bust in the Hall of Fame, as opposed to the number of Contributors who the Hall of Fame should consider.

One of those Senior candidates is Jerry Kramer.

There is absolutely no doubt that Kramer had a superb 11-year career with the Green Bay Packers. Not just in the regular season, but also in the postseason when the lights are the brightest and the pressure to win is extremely high.

Especially when your head coach was named Vince Lombardi.

In his career with the Packers, Kramer was a five-time (first team) All-Pro and was also named to three Pro Bowls. No. 64 would have had even more honors if not for injuries and illness. Kramer missed half of the 1961 season due to a broken ankle and almost all of the 1964 season due to an intestinal ailment which took nine operations to resolve.

Kramer was also named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s, plus he was also a member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team in 1969, where he was the lone offensive guard on that illustrious squad.

Kramer is the only member of that 50th anniversary first team not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Kramer also played a large role in the success that the Packers had under Lombardi in the postseason. The Packers were 9-1 under Lombardi in the playoffs, which included five NFL championships in seven years. That included victories in the first two Super Bowls.

In addition to that, the Packers became the only team in the modern NFL to win three straight NFL titles, when Green Bay won it all in 1965, 1966 and 1967.

No. 64 played a big part in a number of those championship game victories.

In the 1962 NFL Championship Game versus the New York Giants at cold and windy Yankee Stadium, Kramer doubled as a right guard and as placekicker. Kramer 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 1966 NFL Championship Game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the Packers outlasted the Cowboys 34-27. Kramer and the rest of the offensive line had a large impact in that victory, as quarterback Bart Starr threw for 304 yards and had four touchdown passes, plus the running game picked up an additional 102 yards.

In the 1967 NFL Championship Game (better known as the “Ice Bowl”) versus the 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.

Jerry's block on Jethro

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 consistent success of those great Green Bay teams under Lombardi, there are two points which have to be made.

The power sweep was obviously 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.

Kramer played a prominent role in both of those instances.

Even with all that, Kramer has not yet been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Between 1974 and 1987, Kramer was a finalist for induction into Canton nine times. That in itself tells you that Kramer was a tremendous player.

But as this was going on, a lot of Kramer’s teammates with the Packers were getting inducted. This included players like Taylor, Starr, Hornung, Forrest Gregg, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis and Jim Ringo.

But Kramer’s name was never called for induction. In 1989, another former teammate was inducted. Safety Willie Wood finally heard his name called, after also being a finalist nine times, just like Kramer.

In all, Kramer has seen 11 of his former teammates get inducted, as well as his legendary head coach, yet Kramer still waits.

In 1997, Kramer was a Senior finalist, but once again he did not get the votes necessary for induction. So, why is that?

It’s hard to fathom the reasons why. It really is. But let’s try. Cliff Christl, who was the long-time Green Bay representative as a voter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and is now the official historian for the Packers, wrote an article in 2014 which attempted to give the reasons why Kramer has not yet been inducted.

Basically, here are the reasons that Christl has heard through the grapevine as to why Kramer is still not in Canton:

1) There are too many Lombardi-era Packers are already in the Hall of Fame.

2) Kramer may have struggled against Merlin Olsen and Alex Karras.

3) Kramer may not be the best Lombardi-era offensive linemen not in the Hall of Fame.

Let me address each point.

As to the issue that there are too many Lombardi-era Packers in Canton, I have already addressed just how important Kramer was to the success for the Packers, not just in the regular season, but also in the postseason.

One could make an argument that the Packers don’t win the 1962 and 1967 NFL title games if it wasn’t for the great contribution by Kramer. How would the great legacy of Lombardi and his Packers look if they only won three NFL championships in seven years, as opposed to five?

The three field goals that Kramer kicked in very gusty conditions in the 1962 title game at Yankee Stadium were the difference in the outcome of that 16-7 game.

Plus there wouldn’t have been the three straight NFL titles without that epic block by Kramer in the “Ice Bowl” as the closing seconds of that classic game were running down.

In terms of struggling versus Olsen and Karras, I would disagree. First off, both Olsen and Karras were the two best defensive tackles in the NFL in the 1960s. That is why they are on the All-Decade team at that position, along with Bob Lilly of the Cowboys. But Kramer was also on that team at right guard and he had nice success against both Olsen and Karras.

Yes, there were times when the two got the best of Kramer, but that is what they did on a consistent basis with all the right guards in the NFL. In the games where Kramer was matched up against Karras, the Packers won nine games, lost five and tied three with Detroit. The Lions were the biggest threat to Green Bay in the early 1960s, as they finished second to the Packers in the Western Division three straight years from 1960-1962.

Merlin Olsen vs. the Pack

When Kramer and the Packers went up against Olsen and his Los Angeles Rams in the regular season, Green Bay won seven games and lost just three against the Rams. Plus, the Packers also beat the Rams 28-7 in the 1967 Western Conference Championship Game in Milwaukee. Kramer did not allow a sack to Olsen in that game, plus the Packers piled up 163 rushing yards and 222 passing yards.

Plus there is the fact that both Olsen and Karras have endorsed Kramer for the Hall of Fame.

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.”

There are also quite a number of Kramer’s contemporaries who are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who likewise believe Kramer belongs in Canton. Randy Simon has put together a great book that shows all the endorsements.

They come from teammates like Starr, Hornung and Davis, along with players like Lilly, Frank Gifford, Chuck Bednarik, 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.

In addressing the final point that Christl mentioned in his story about whether Kramer may not be the best Lombardi-era offensive linemen not in the Hall of Fame, I would fervently disagree.

I certainly agree that Thurston was an excellent left guard for the Packers. In his career, Fuzzy was an AP All-Pro once, but he unbelievably never went to a Pro Bowl. Bob Skoronski was a solid left tackle in Green Bay but was never All-Pro and only went to one Pro Bowl. Both Thurston and Skoronski were very good offensive linemen for the Packers, but they were not up to the level of Kramer overall.

Now guard Gale Gillingham did have a Hall of Fame career in my opinion. He was All-Pro a number of times and went to five Pro Bowls. Most of that was done after Lombardi left Green Bay, however.

As much as Gillingham deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Kramer needs to get in first for all he has accomplished, much of which was done well before Gillingham became a starter in 1967.

The bottom line is that Jerry Kramer should have been inducted into the Hall of Fame decades ago along with the rest of his teammates. No. 64’s importance and contributions to those great Packer teams under Lombardi have been noted.

Until the Senior Selection Committee and the rest of the voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame right this wrong about Kramer and his place in NFL history, there will always be a dark cloud which will hover over that prestigious building in Canton.

Gosselin said this about the issue in one of his chats with his readers at the Dallas Morning News:

“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.

The NFL’s 50th anniversary team was named 47 years ago. Kramer became eligible for induction five years later. That means Kramer has patiently waited 42 years for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to open it’s doors for him.

Vince and Jerry IV

Kramer has remained classy and stoic throughout this ordeal. When I talked with him recently, Kramer told me that he sees the glass as half-full, talking about his football life and his time with Coach Lombardi.

“I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that it’s [his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame] not going to happen,” Kramer said. “I’ve gotten along fine without it. I still feel that…I’m going to pull a Lou Gehrig on you…that I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world.

“The opportunity to play for Coach Lombardi and the timing of it was just so perfect. I arrived one year before him, played nine years with him as coach and then one year while he was the GM. I was really able to watch his impact and learn from his philosophies, beliefs and principles. It was as much an education, as it was an experience.

“I was very fortunate to have been a part of that.”

Speaking of Coach Lombardi, and before I spoke to Kramer, I found a quote from Lombardi talking about Kramer from a 1969 article in the Chicago Tribune.

“Jerry Kramer is the best guard in the league,” Lombardi said. “Some say the best in the history of the game.”

I told Kramer about that quote and asked if he had heard it before.

“I think I have,” Kramer said. “But coming from that source, it’s always nice to hear it again.”

I only wish the Senior Selection Committee and the rest of the voters at the Pro Football Hall of Fame would heed the words of Lombardi and many, many others. Besides all the great salutations Kramer has received from his peers, the bottom line is that he was the best player at his position when he played in the NFL.

Not just in the regular season, but in the bright lights of the postseason as well when his team was so dominant. Kramer played a huge role in championship legacy of the Packers in the 1960s.

Which is why he was named to the NFL’s 50th anniversary team in 1969.

It is high time that Kramer gets the honor which he so richly deserves. That being, induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a place where the best of the best get recognized.

And Kramer was the best of the best.

Happy Birthday, Jerry Kramer!

Jerry II

Today is the 80th birthday of Gerald Louis Kramer. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Jerry pretty well over the past several years. I’ve been able to talk with him countless times on the phone, usually for at least an hour at a time. I’ve also done dozens and dozens of stories about him and his exploits with the Green Bay Packers.

It goes without question that Jerry was an outstanding football player in the NFL as a member of the Packers. That was sealed in eternity when he was named as the only offensive guard on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team.

Yet, he is the only member of that first team not enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But as great as he was on the football field, he’s an even better person. Don’t take my word for it. Ask his children. I’ve gotten to know Alicia, Dan and Diana fairly well since I’ve connected with Jerry. Their support for their father is amazing. And so is their love.

One person who helped to mold Jerry into the person that he has become was Vince Lombardi.

When I talked to Jerry about Lombardi, the discussion wasn’t just about football, it was about life in general.

“Coach Lombardi had a tremendous impact on my life,” Jerry told me. “The fundamentals that he taught us were fundamentals for life. They were about football, but also about business or anything else you wanted to achieve.

“You would use the Lombardi principles. He believed in paying the price. He believed in hard work and making sacrifices for the betterment of the team. His principles were preparation, commitment, consistency, discipline, character, pride, tenacity and perseverance.

“Those things are still helping me today.”

Kramer also talked about a the values he learned from Lombardi.

“Coach Lombardi use to share a philosophy about life with us,” Kramer said. “He said, ‘After the game is over, the stadium lights are out, the parking lot is empty, the fans have all gone home, the press has done their job and released their information, you are finally back in the quiet of your own room looking at the championship ring on the dresser. The only thing left after that was to have a standard of excellence in your life. Make sure that the world is a better place because you were in it.’

“The coach taught us to leave a positive impact on society,” Kramer said. “The world would be a much better place if we did that. That’s what I have tried to do all these years.”

Vince and Jerry II

Because of all the stories I’ve written about Kramer, I’m often asked if Jerry is as genuine as he looks on television when he doing interviews for various media outlets.

The answer is YES. I’m as comfortable in talking with Jerry as I would be with my favorite uncle.

I have over 20 years of sales experience and have worked for companies like Xerox over that time. I developed a pretty good understanding on how to read people, either via the phone or in person.

You pretty much know where things are going in the first five minutes of your conversation. In my first conversation with Jerry, the ice was melted in the first thirty seconds.

I knew we would have a great relationship.

Back to Jerry’s exploits as a player. Jerry was a six-time All-Pro and named to three Pro Bowls. He was also on the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s.

No. 64 would have received even more honors except for injuries and illness.

Jerry performed at an exceptional level in the regular season for the Packers under coach Lombardi, but he took it up a notch in games that determined who the champion would be.

I’ll give you three examples.

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 scored 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.

Bart's sneak behind Jerry

It all came down to 16 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.

Bart 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.

Jerry Kramer played a huge role in both of those iconic memories.

When Kramer played in the NFL, he played against some of the very best defensive tackles in the history of the NFL. Two examples are Merlin Olsen of the Los Angeles Rams and Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions.

Olsen is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Karras, like Kramer, should be.

Olsen is considered by many to be the best defensive tackle in the history of the NFL. The awards he received as a player certainly seem to say that.

No. 74 was named to 14 Pro Bowls and was named first team All-Pro nine times.

When Kramer had to battle Olsen in the trenches, he knew it was going to be a war of attrition.

“I knew that Merlin was never going to let up on the field,” Kramer said. “He was never going to quit. He wasn’t going to hold you. He wasn’t going to play dirty. But he wasn’t going to take a play off either. He was coming.

“You had to gamble a little bit with Merlin. I liked to pop him every once in awhile. Like if it’s a pass play, I might come off the line of scrimmage and just whack him real quick like it’s a running play. Then I would almost bounce back into my position as a pass-blocker.

“That gave me an extra second for him to figure out that it really was a pass play. I remember one time he was starting to loop around the center towards Fuzzy [Thurston}, and I came up and popped him real quick with my helmet. And he went down to one knee and then bounced back up into a running position.

“He was a load. He was strong. He was motivated. He was smart. And he may have been the best I ever played against.”

The admiration and respect Kramer had for Olsen went both ways, as Merlin sent off this letter of endorsement for Kramer regarding induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

“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.”

Yes, today is the 80th birthday for Jerry Kramer. No. 64 has been eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 1974. That’s 42 years ago.

It’s ridiculous that Kramer has yet to get in, especially knowing he’s been a 10-time finalist. Nine of those ten times occurred from 1974 through 1987, however.

Kramer was also a finalist as a senior in 1997, but also didn’t get the votes necessary for induction.

I honestly can’t fathom an answer as to why No. 64 has not been enshrined yet. Jerry has the playing credentials, the championships and the respect of his peers who are already in Canton.

Packers-Rams playoff game in '67

Here’s hoping that on his 81st birthday, Jerry will be just a couple of weeks from induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On Saturday February 4, 2017 in Houston, the site of Super Bowl LI, the Class of 2017 will be named.

Jerry rightfully deserves to hear his name called that day. It’s something he should have already heard decades ago.

Happy Birthday, Jerry! All the best on YOUR day! I hope you receive some presents you can enjoy.

Speaking of presents, you have given us all treasured memories which will never be forgotten.

Jerry Kramer is not just a great ambassador for the Packers and the NFL, but also a great ambassador for the human race.

Coach Lombardi would be proud.

Jerry Kramer Talks About the 1967 Playoff Game Versus the Los Angeles Rams

Rams-Packers program

The 1967 NFL season was a special one in the history of the Green Bay Packers. It would turn out to be the last season that Vince Lombardi would be the head coach of the team.

Up until that season, Lombardi and his Packers had won four NFL titles in six years, plus had won Super Bowl I. In addition to that, the Packers had a chance to win their third straight NFL championship, a feat which had never been accomplished in the playoff era of the NFL.

1967 was also the year when right guard Jerry Kramer of the Packers kept a diary of the season.  Kramer would recite his thoughts into a tape recorder and then submit those words to Dick Schaap, who edited the words into the final version of the classic book, Instant Replay.

Little did Kramer know that the 1967 season would be one of the most remarkable in the history of the NFL, culminating with the NFL Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys, better known as the “Ice Bowl.” No. 64 played a key role in the outcome of that game as well, as the Packers won 21-17 in the final seconds of that legendary contest.

From training camp, through the “Ice Bowl” victory, then the win in Super Bowl II, Kramer provides a fascinating perspective about the viciousness of the NFL back then, when the game was truly a mixture of blood, sweat and tears.

Kramer also offers an insightful view of Lombardi, as a man, as a coach and as a leader.

Two of the more interesting aspects of the ’67 season were the two times the Packers had to face the Los Angeles Rams. With the Rams now going back to the City of Angels in 2016, I thought it would be an apropos time to talk those contests with Kramer.

The first time the team met was late in the season, when the Packers had already clinched the NFL Central division with a 9-2-1 mark heading into the game. They would be traveling to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to take on the 9-1-2 Rams.

The Packers really had nothing to play for except pride. The Rams meanwhile, were in a heated race with the Baltimore Colts to see who would win the Coastal division. Also, the NFL did not have a wild card format at the time, so the Rams had to win the division to advance to the playoffs.

Lombardi gave the team a quick pep talk on the sideline before the game.

“Thousands of people are here in the stands,” Lombardi told the team. “There are millions of people on television and everyone looking. All this speculation to see what kind of a game the Green Bay Packers are going to play today.

“Right? I want you to be proud of your profession. It’s a great profession. You be proud of this game. You can do a great deal for football today. A great deal for all the players in the league and everything else. Now go out there and play this ball game like I know you can play it!”

This past Friday, the NFL Network had a three-hour special as Super Bowl I was replayed in it’s entirety for the first time since that epic event 49 years ago.

In that special, it was presented that the speech that Lombardi gave his team in the 1967 regular season versus the Rams, was the one he gave before Super Bowl I, which also occurred at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.

I knew that wasn’t the case and I posted a comment about it on Facebook. During a conversation I had with Kramer on Tuesday, I mentioned that to him.

“I saw that,” Kramer said speaking of my comment on Facebook. “I said, ‘Bob knows his sh*t. He’s doing it again. He’s got it right.’

The Packers played a great game on that Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles on December 9, 1967.

It was a hard fought contest, which saw both teams go back and forth taking the lead. The Rams had taken a 17-10 lead in the third period when they kicked off to Travis Williams of the Packers.

Williams had already become a sensation in the NFL in returning kickoffs that season, as he had returned three kicks for touchdowns before this game against the Rams.

No. 23 took the kickoff four yards deep in the end zone and returned the kick for yet another touchdown which tied the game at 17 all.

The Rams took the lead again 20-17 in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard field goal by Bruce Gossett, before the Packers scored on a four-yard touchdown run by fullback Chuck Mercein to give the Packers a 24-20 lead.

Donny's blocked put vs. the Rams

The Packers had that lead until the very last minute when Donny Anderson had his punt blocked by Tony Guillory of the Rams. Quarterback Roman Gabriel and his offense now had the ball on the five-yard line of the Packers with just seconds to go in the game.

Gabriel then threw a touchdown pass to Bernie Casey and the Rams won 27-24, as the Packers lost in heartbreaking fashion.

In Instant Replay, this is what Kramer wrote regarding the outcome of the game:

I was ready to fall down when the game ended. I contained Merlin pretty well, but I was beat from head to toe. I played about as hard as I ever played in my life, and I took an incredible physical pounding in the middle of the line. So did everyone else; everybody gave 100 percent. Coach Lombardi told me I played a great game, but I was down, blue, disappointed, dejected, everything. I never came so close to tears on a football field.

Fortunately for the Packers, they had one more opportunity to play the Rams. This time it would be in the Western Conference Championship Game at Milwaukee County Stadium on December 23, just two weeks after that painful loss to the Rams.

Kramer told me that he knew the Rams would be a very tough test.

“They [the Rams] were a hell of a football team,” Kramer said. “The Fearsome Foursome was very real. There wasn’t any weakness there. They also had a good linebacking corp and good defensive backs. They had a hell of a football team.”

The game didn’t start out well for the Packers as they had a couple of turnovers in the first quarter.  The last turnover led to a score by the Rams, as Gabriel hit Casey on a 29-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.

But the Packers weren’t phased. The team was definitely ready to play, as Lombardi had given the team another pre-game pep talk in the locker room.

Lombardi and the Packers vs. the Rams

“We really got fired up in the locker room when Coach Lombardi gave us his Run to Win speech,” Kramer said. “That got us pretty high. The ring I wear, from Super Bowl II, has Run to Win on the side of it.

“He gave us this wonderful speech of St. Paul’s epistle,  about when all the runners are running the race, only one can win, and we run, not just to be in the race, but we run to win. That got us pumped up pretty good.”

The Packers basically took control of the game emphatically in the second quarter. Kramer talked about one of the strategies that the Packers employed in the game.

“One of the best things we did for the ball game was to put Marv Fleming next to Forrest [Gregg] to double Deacon [Jones],” Kramer said. “We really spent some time on trying to neutralize him and keep him a way from his favorite target [the quarterback].

“So that worked really well. Of course Travis [Williams] was the wild card in that game. I remember blocking on Merlin [Olsen] and he was starting to slip away to the outside in pursuit and I look outside and Travis was about even with us, but near the sideline running towards the end zone. And I knew that this play was over. He’s gone.”

Gone he was, as Williams galloped 46 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.

The Packers added another touchdown in the second quarter, as Bart Starr threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Carroll Dale for a 14-7 lead going into halftime.

The Packers were never threatened after that. Williams ended up with 88 yards rushing and two scores, while Dale caught six passes for 109 yards and a score.

The Packers had 20 first downs to the Rams 12 in the game. Starr was only sacked once, while Gabriel was sacked five times, including 3.5 sacks by Henry Jordan.

The result was a very satisfying 28-7 victory over the Rams. That win set up the game eight days later, when the Packers played the Cowboys in the Ice Bowl game, when the Packers won their third straight NFL title.

This is what Kramer wrote regarding that great win against the Rams in Instant Replay:

I was misty-eyed myself I felt so good. I felt so proud, proud of myself and proud of my teammates and proud of my coaches. I felt like I was part of something special. I guess it’s the way a group of scientists feel when they make a big breakthrough, though, of course, we aren’t that important. It’s a feeling of being together, completely together, a singleness of purpose, accomplishing something that is very difficult to accomplish, accomplishing something that a lot of people thought you couldn’t accomplish. It sent a beautiful shiver up my back.

One of the reasons Kramer was busting with pride was due to the fact that he had competed against arguably the best defensive tackle in the history of the NFL, Merlin Olsen.

Kramer talked to me about the many times he competed against the great No. 74 of the Rams.

“I knew that Merlin was never going to let up on the field,” Kramer said. “He was never going to quit. He wasn’t going to hold you. He wasn’t going to play dirty. But he wasn’t going to take a play off either. He was coming.

“You had to gamble a little bit with Merlin. I liked to pop him every once in awhile. Like if it’s a pass play, I might come off the line of scrimmage and just whack him real quick like it’s a running play. Then I would almost bounce back into my position as a pass-blocker.

Packers-Rams playoff game in '67

“That gave me an extra second for him to figure out that it really was a pass play. I remember one time he was starting to loop around the center towards Fuzzy [Thurston}, and I came up and popped him real quick with my helmet. And he went down to one knee and then bounced back up into a running position.

“He was a load. He was strong. He was motivated. He was smart. And he may have been the best I ever played against.”

Olsen had the honors to prove it. He was named to 14 Pro Bowls and was named first team All-Pro nine times.

The respect and admiration that Kramer had for Olsen, was equally shared by No. 74 towards No. 64.

In fact, Olsen sent off this letter of endorsement for Kramer regarding induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

“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.”

That might be the strongest endorsement Kramer has ever received regarding his rightful place in Canton, which has still yet to occur, even with Kramer being a finalist 10 times.

I have written about this travesty many times, including in this story.

How can a man who was on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team, be kept out of Canton? Kramer is the only member of that first-team not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In addition, 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.

But his biggest moments came on the football field in the postseason, when it truly was win or go home. The Packers kept winning and Kramer was a big reason why, especially in the 1962, 1965 and 1967 NFL title games.

Olsen wasn’t the only player who has come out to speak out on behalf of Kramer being in the Hall of Fame. So have contemporaries 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.

You can see all of those endorsements and much more in this great book put together by Randy Simon.

No matter what your occupation in life is, you always want to be respected by your peers. And Kramer certainly was respected by his rivals in the NFL.

“In the wee small hours of the morning, I rather have the applause of my peers, than to not have the applause of my peers and be in the Hall,” Kramer said. “I rather have the guys I admired and I thought a lot of, think that I belong, than to be in there and have them think I didn’t.”

There is absolutely no question that Gerald Louis Kramer belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has the credentials, the championships and the respect of his peers who are already in Canton.

Merlin Olsen

In less than a week, on January 23rd, Kramer will celebrate his 80th birthday. He has waited far too long for his proper enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Here’s hoping that this injustice will be taken care of when Kramer is part of the Class of 2017 in Canton.

It s a well-deserved honor which has eluded the best guard in the history of the NFL, at least based on his inclusion on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team.

You know Merlin Olsen would certainly agree.

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.