NGSC Sports

Things I Don’t Get About Jerry Kramer and the Hall of Fame

It seems nowadays that celebrities in the national spotlight will often use their exposure in mass media to put forth a cause, charity, or opinion in order to use their unique professional station to bring awareness to their topic. While the impulse to use this fringe benefit seems noble on the surface, it’s also something that also rubs people the wrong way. It disgusts the public at large into asking, “who does this person think they are?” — As if exploiting this leverage is some sort of abuse of social power granted only by the fact the theoretical individual is famous. While I don’t presume to be a celebrity (yet), this week’s installment of the “Things I Don’t Get” series is to bring forth the injustice surrounding NFL great, Jerry Kramer. It being the week of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, it’s the perfect time to bring attention for the injustice surrounding him. “Who do I think I am?”. . . I am the Student of the Game trying to remedy an ill within the game I love.

Jerry Kramer was a 39th draft pick overall in 1958 to the Green Bay Packers. Drafted in the same class as Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor and Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke who were his teammates. The following year, the Packers began the Vince Lombardi era when they hired the legendary head coach who is not only immortalized with a bronze bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio, but as the namesake for the Super Bowl trophy which crowns the World Champion every year.

As the team’s right guard, Jerry Kramer was a member of 5 NFL Championship squads and 2 Super Bowl winning campaigns. On the field, he also contributed as the team’s place kicker for a portion of his tenure including 3 FGs in the 1962’s 16-7 NFL championship win over the New York Giants.

[airesizeimg src=”$-300×199$.jpg” alt=”Jerry Kramer NOT FEATURED IMAGE” class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-5609″ ]

While his football resume’ stands solid on its own with this list of accolades, Kramer’s personal story of trials he had to overcome to stay on the field only further intensify the awesome of his accomplishments. Throughout his 11 year career, the Packers guard underwent 22 surgeries and still was a 5 time All-Pro selection. The worst was in 1964 where after starting the first two games, he was sidelined due to a bout with actinomycosis for the remainder of that year. By the 1965 season, Jerry was back on the field to reclaim his starting spot on a campaign where Green Bay was the NFL Champion. With all these distinctions, accolades, and tributes, the thing that I don’t get is that I can’t list Jerry Kramer’s ascension to football heaven as an inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. . . And that’s because it hasn’t happened yet.

The only dissenting point I can come up with is a bias I can be correctly accused of holding. I took position on the offensive line myself as a semi-pro player, so of course I’d harp on and on about an O-linemen getting snubbed of Pro Football’s highest individual honor. Heck, I’ve penned articles in the past that have been zealous to point out the disgusting lack of attention the “hawgs” in the trenches get. And to that extent, maybe I am preaching about a guy who was a mere role player on a team that had many iconic pieces of that era in the sport.

Let’s leave out delivering the lead block that enabled Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr to score the winning touchdown in the fabled “Ice Bowl”; the 1967 NFL championship en route to a win in Super Bowl II. . . A single play does not a Canton enshrinee make.

[airesizeimg src=”$-300×206$.jpg” alt=”jerry kramer and Vince Lombardi” class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-5608″ ]

In my mind, the irrefutable evidence of Jerry Kramer’s essential role on this club leads back to his coach, Vince Lombardi. Held among most as the NFL’s best coaches of all time (and certainly the only one to have a Broadway show based on his life), Lombardi’s most famous play run in his championship teams’ repertoire is the Power Sweep.

Seen as a revolutionary component to the Green Bay ground game, the most important element to executing this play short of a runner who can read blocks in front of him is the pulling guard who seals the edge and clears the lane to the outside in order for the ball carrier to sweep around the edge of the line of scrimmage and move the ball up field. The cornerstone role to Coach Lombardi’s favorite play was handled by none other than still-yet-to-be Hall of Famer, Jerry Kramer.

In 2013, Lombardi era Packer linebacker Dave Robinson was inducted into “the Hall” as was Kansas City Chief’s D-lineman Curley Culp who wasn’t a Super Bowl champion until after losing in Super Bowl I, facing off against the incomparable Jerry Kramer.  Yet with all that Kramer contributed and achieved as a player in the league while dealing with personal turmoil, he is still not bronze busted along side of the coach, quarterback, and running back who he served, protected, and lead. . . I just don’t get it.

Author Profile

Kyle NashThe Student of the Game
Host of the Student of The Game Podcast Monday @ 7:30pm EST
Writer for NGSC Sports
Narrator of Sport Symposium on NGSC Sports YouTube Channel.

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