UPDATE: As I’m sure you know, Packer fan, Jerry Kramer was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018. But I want to leave this piece up, written in its pre-induction anger, because he should have been inducted decades ago. But thank god he was able to see himself get inducted. Good on you Hall of Fame voters for realizing your mistake.]
This piece is going to be short because not much needs to be said. Jerry Kramer is one of the finest players in the history of the NFL, yet he is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And yes, everyone knows Jerry Kramer isn’t in the Hall, but that doesn’t mean we should stop screaming about the travesty!
He’s one of three Packers players that, in our opinion, deserve to get the call to the Hall. Sterling Sharpe and LeRoy Butler definitely have a case, but Jerry Kramer’s lack of inclusion is utterly unforgivable.
Most people know that Kramer is, infamously, the only member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team (assembled in 1969) that is not enshrined in Canton, Ohio. He is also on the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team — the decade that saw professional football enter its modern era and became America’s favorite sport.
We decided to list a few of the questions should be, and probably are, asked when voters are considering an offensive lineman for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s a unique position because there aren’t exactly statistics to track. It’s not always easy to tell which lineman is playing better than the rest, especially at guard.
In our opinion, for a linemen to enter the Hall he must 1.) Dominate his position and boast individual honors. 2.) Help his team win games and, in many cases, championships. 3.) Be an iconic piece of NFL history.
Does anyone disagree?
1.) Being named First-Team All-Pro five times, like Jerry Kramer, means you are one of the most dominant players of your era at your position. No debate there.
2.) He was a member of five World Championship teams, including the first two Super Bowls in NFL history. The man was, if nothing else, a winner.
3.) What is more iconic than being the lead blocker on one of the most famous plays in NFL history? Kramer made the key block on Bart Starr’s “Ice Bowl” sneak. He was also one of the most important pieces of the Packers’ famed “Power Sweep” which helped pave the way to those five championships. Iconic indeed.
What differentiates him from other linemen is that he was also a field goal kicker when needed.
Jerry Kramer, on top of being a dominant right guard, scored 177 points via 29 field goals and 90 extra points in his career. In 1962, he led the NFL in field goal percentage (81.8%) and in that season’s World Championship Game went 3-5 in field goal attempts (scoring ten of the team’s 16 points in the victory). The following season, 1963, he finished fourth in the NFL in scoring, one point ahead of Jim Brown.
Kramer also recovered four fumbles in his career, including one in the playoffs.
His versatility as an athlete cannot be questioned; either can his ability to step up in clutch situations. How many linemen in league history have been effective enough to five times be regarded the best at their position and also find a way to score nearly 200 career points.
I’ll give you a hint. It’s just one.
Here area few other NFL greats that were named First-Team All-Pro five times: Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton, Chuck Bednarik, Dick Butkus, Joe Greene, Eric Dickerson, Sid Luckman and O.J. Simpson. As well as teammates Willie Davis and Willie Wood. All of those men have gold jackets.
Kramer is the only Packer to be named First-Team All-Pro five times, in the modern era, and not make it into the Hall of Fame.
And if you want to talk about a player making an impact on the NFL and spreading the NFL throughout American culture look no further than Jerry Kramer’s co-authored best-selling book Instant Replay. That book was an unprecedented look into the life of a professional football player. Some say it helped the popularity of the NFL grow even more.
It should be mentioned, again, that the Hall of Fame is supposed to house the professional football’s most iconic, impactful players of all-time. What is more iconic than the Sport’s Illustrated cover featuring Vince Lombardi being carried off the field by Kramer, with each other locking eyes, following their second straight Super Bowl win (in their final game together).
Jerry Kramer has a legacy that is rock solid in Green Bay. He’s one of the most beloved players to ever step onto the field for the Packers and has kept strong relations with the community ever since his retirement. Although he deserves that ultimate recognition nationwide; he deserves the immortality of a bust.
But what is great about Kramer is that he will never be forgotten, because until the end of time the replays of him making the block that won the “Ice Bowl” and him leading the Packers’ “Power Sweep” will forever be shown to the next generation of NFL fans. The Green Bay Packers of the 1960s have an unending legacy and he’s an essential part of that.
The final piece of that dynasty’s legacy should be getting him into the Hall. Enough is enough, voters.
If you’d like to hear our argument for Sterling Sharpe to get into the Hall click here. If LeRoy Butler was a favorite of yours, you may want to check out this piece, too.