Yesterday, Jerry Kramer turned 82 and here’s hoping 10 days from now he can finally pop some champagne to toast his spot in Canton.
With 10 days to go until the announcement, here are 10 reasons Jerry Kramer deserves a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame.
- His legacy. As the pulling guard, Jerry Kramer led Lombardi sweep, which looks cool in Vern Biever’s excellent photos but actually requires bodily sacrifice. Pulling guards lead with speed and then hurl their bodies forward to block. The move requires timing, a great jump off the snap, finesse and strength. Kramer did it over and over again during the Packers Glory Years.
- His ability. In addition to playing guard, Kramer was also the Packers’ placekicker throughout much of his career.In fact, Kramer scored 10 out of the 16 points when the Packers beat the New York Giants in the 1962 NFL Championship game. He kicked field goals of 26, 29 and 30 yards and an extra point, in addition to his work on the offensive line. Overall, he played on five NFL championship teams, including the first two Super Bowls.
- His voice. Every time I hear Kramer’s voice boom across Lambeau Field asking “Were you here?” I have to remind myself that I’m watching a commercial, and not a montage. He may move a little slower and stand a little more hunched, but Jerry Kramer still has a powerful voice that catches the attention of 70,000+ people every Sunday at Lambeau.
- His written voice. Instant Replay ranks as one of the best sports books of all time. It gave us all a behind-the-scenes look at professional football, and made the NFL more accessible to the masses. Jerry Kramer (and his co-writer and friend Dick Schaap) marketed the NFL before anyone knew it had to be marketed.
- His dedication to the sport. My dad, Ron Kostelnik, lined up against Jerry Kramer in practice every week for eight years. He told us Jerry Kramer was one of the toughest opponents he ever faced on the field.
- His loyalty. In the 50 years since Kramer represented his team and his league with class. A gracious celebrity, Kramer greets fans and signs autographs with a chivalrous aplomb.
- His family. Kramer has six kids and all of them are working hard to help their dad earn a spot in Canton. By all accounts, Kramer is an active and supportive father to Tony, Diana, Danny, Alicia, Matt and Jordan.
- His resilience. Kramer battled some serious injuries, including the removal of wood fragments from his abdomen. In all, he had 22 surgeries in 11 seasons in the NFL.
- His accolades. Despite all those injuries, Kramer was named All-Pro five times in 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, and 1967.
- His class. Kramer has been a modern day Hall of Fame finalist nine times between 1974 and 1987. He was a senior finalist in 1997. In all those years, Kramer has never publicly complained about these omissions.As I’ve written about before, on more than one occasion, I believe it’s time to induct Jerry Kramer into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.