Ask The Geico Guy: Does Jerry Kramer Belong in the Hall of Fame?

Does a former drill sergeant make a terrible therapist? Of course he does.

Even if the name Jerry Kramer isn’t familiar, you’ve seen him if you’ve ever watched NFL Films. Kramer is the man who threw arguably the most famous block in NFL history.  Kramer’s block on Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jethro Pugh in the 1967 NFL Championship cleared the way for Packer quarterback Bart Starr to score the touchdown which sent the Packers to Super Bowl II.

The game known as the “Ice Bowl” is an iconic piece of NFL history, and the setup to Kramer’s game-winning block is timeless. The Packers were trailing 17-14 with only 4:50 remaining. The Packers had the ball on their own 32-yard line, and the weather conditions were less than favorable for such a clutch drive; after, there’s a reason they called this game the “Ice Bowl.” This is the game that put the term “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field” into the NFL lexicon and gave us the moment where 13 was the magic number…the temperature was 13 degrees below zero, there were 13 seconds left on the clock, the ball was little more than 13 inches from the Cowboys goal line, and the Packers had no timeouts.

Quarterback Bart Starr called a play in the huddle that called for fullback Chuck Murcien to carry the ball behind a double-team block on Pugh thrown by Kramer and Packer center Ken Bowman. Starr kept the ball after the snap as he felt he could get better footing on the icy field. Kramer definitely had footing as he drove Pugh backward; Kramer was the first Packer in the end zone. Starr was the second, and that score led to the Packers second Super Bowl championship.

However, that wasn’t Kramer’s biggest performance in a championship game. That would come in the 1962 Championship Game, played against the New York Giants in Yankee Stadium. Many people thought the conditions that day were even worse than those of the “Ice Bowl.” Broadcaster Art Rust, Jr. called the weather that day “barbaric. ” Temperatures were in the single digits and the winds were gusting over 40 miles per hour. During the games conditions were so adverse one cameraman suffered frostbite while others resorted to lighting fires in the baseball dugouts to thaw out their cameras. Even Kramer himself was awed by the circumstances (From NFL.com):

Jerry Kramer surveyed the surreal scene as quickly as he could with the Giants waiting for the snap and the sounds of 64,892 fans in Yankee Stadium muffled by the howling winds gusting up to 40 mph.

Kramer, the team’s right guard, was in his first year taking over place-kicking duties and all he could think about were ghosts of Yankees legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

“‘What are you doing in the middle of a baseball field against the New York Giants trying to kick a field goal?'” Kramer recalled. “It was great pressure for me.”

Even before the game, Kramer knew it was going to be an epic struggle, especially considering Packer head coach Vince Lombardi had been an offensive coach for the Giants.

“It was the coach’s backyard and his first time back in the big city in a playoff game. We knew how much it meant to him. There was considerable pressure and we understood it was going to be a substantial battle.”

The Packers won that hard fought battle 16-7; the difference being three field goals, all kicked by Jerry Kramer.  But like a lot of lineman, Kramer just didn’t get the love that day.

Kramer got voted for the team game ball, which he still has, while the writers picked linebacker Ray Nitschke as the MVP (he got a Corvette in “a classic example of what a lineman’s life is like,” Kramer quipped).

The lack of love, at least as far as the Pro Football Hall of Fame is concerned, continues for Kramer. This is why we here at Dubsism are taking up the cause to get Kramer the enshrinement in Canton he earned. Take the following from the website Jerry Kramer for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Jerry Kramer played right guard for the Green Bay Packers from 1958-1968. During these years the Packers dominated the NFL, winning 5 Championships (6162656667) in 7 seasons and the first two Super Bowls (III).

The heart of Green Bay’s offense was the Power Sweep. To Coach Lombardi it epitomized team work, requiring “all 11 men to play as one”. But the role of the guards was key and there was none better than Kramer, “the perfect prototype of a right guard”.

Three times a Pro Bowler (626367), five times an All-Pro, Jerry was named to the 1960’s All Decade Team, the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team, and, most notably, the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Star Team. Incomprehensibly, he is the only member of that team NOT in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “I cannot believe he is not yet in the Hall of Fame,” wrote legendary sportswriter Jim Murray, “Neither can anyone he ever blocked for.” Packer teammate and Hall of Fame running back Paul Hornung concurs. “When you think of Hall of Fame guards, very few come to mind. However, when I think of great guards, I think of Jerry Kramer.”

Merlin Olsen may have said it best, “Good Lord, he should be in the Hall.”

Jerry Kramer leads the way for Elijah Pitts in Super Bowl I

Steve Sabol of NFL Films once referred to Jerry Kramer as “the lead boulder in the avalanche that was the Packer Power Sweep.” NFL Films also produced a video which makes Kramer’s case to be in Canton. Bleacher Report says Kramer is the greatest player to ever wear the number 64.  Even Sports Illustrated’s Peter King gets the power of the petition.

“Want to see Jerry Kramer get one of the Seniors nods? That’s the tenor of what I read and hear on Twitter. There are nine Seniors Committee members, and five of them meet every year in late August in Canton to determine who will get the two nominations. The best advice I can give those with the passion for Kramer is to write passionately to the Hall about his candidacy. Your voices will be heard.”

Want your voice to be heard? Start by going to the Jerry Kramer for Pro Football Hall of Fame website. There you can access the full story on Jerry Kramer, follow their Twitter feed, like them on Facebook, and sign the petition to get Kramer inducted.

Not only that, but you can contact the Senior Selection committee. These are nine veteran members of the Selection Committee who can nominate two members each year. Since Kramer is no longer on the regular ballot, he must be nominated by the Senior Committee. These members are:

  • Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
  • Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
  • John McClain, Houston Chronicle
  • Ron Borges, Boston Herald
  • Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • John Czarnecki, FOXSports.com
  • Dave Goldberg, AOL Sports/Fanhouse
  • Ira Miller, The Sports Xchange
  • Len Shapiro, Miami Herald

It isn’t hard to find Twitter feeds or email addresses for all of these people. Like Peter King said, if you want Jerry Kramer in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is time to let your voice be heard.

6 responses

  1. Sorry, man.

    I only get one vote and it’s going to Moyer.

    1. You do know that baseball and hockey have their own Halls of Fame…I guess this means asking your thoughts on Rogatien Vachon for the Hockey Hall of Fame is a wasted effort…

  2. Speaking as a guy whose NFL fandom peaked from the late 50s to the late 70s, I am stunned to hear that Kramer is not in the HOF. I thought he was the best guard of the era. Reading here that he was on the 50 year all NFL squad adds to my confusion. I read his books and didn’t find them offensive or embarrassing to the league (see Bouton, Jim). Maybe word got out that Kramer had actually read a book and that led to his exclusion ? Can’t remember anything about Kramer’s personal life, but compared to teammates Paul Hornung and Max McGee, he had to be a choirboy.

    1. I would love to hear some voters explain how this guy got shut out on 15 ballots, then I would like to hear the Vets committee tell me why the guy hasn’t been nominated since 1997.

  3. Some of my very first football memories are of Kramer plowing over people on a regular basis. Hard-pressed to think of a greater snub ongoing right now with the NFL HOF.

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