Jerry Kramer is, at very least, perhaps the most famous guard to ever play pro football.
Kramer, a key part of Vince Lombardi’s 1960s Green Bay Packers, wrote the influential book “Instant Replay” with Dick Schaap. The diary of the 1967 Packers is still among the greatest sports books ever, and led to many copycat books. Kramer also delivered what is considered the most famous block in NFL history, clearing out Dallas Cowboys tackle Jethro Pugh to allow Bart Starr to sneak into the end zone and win the “Ice Bowl.” He was front and center in one of the most iconic NFL photos ever, helping carry Lombardi off the field after Super Bowl II. If his name has popped up in the news recently, it’s because he has often been called the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s biggest snub, at least among those who didn’t play this century.
Kramer, to the joy of Packers fans and his family, is presumably on the verge of getting the call from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kramer and former Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile were named senior finalists on Thursday, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Over the past two decades, being a senior finalist makes a player practically a lock for enshrinement.
In 1997, Kramer was a finalist but wasn’t voted into the ball. Since then, 28 of 32 senior finalists were voted into the Hall of Fame, and the three of the four who weren’t made to the Hall of Fame on their next try (Dick Stanfel, Claude Humphrey and Bob Hayes made it, Marshall Goldberg has not). Odds are that Kramer’s long wait will finally end just before next season’s Super Bowl.
Kramer’s daughter Alicia, who has worked hard to get her father in the Hall (her Twitter bio is @JerryKramer4HOF), had an appropriate message after the announcement.
— Alicia E. Kramer (@JerryKramer4HOF) August 24, 2017
Kramer isn’t a finalist again because of a book or one block. He was a great player. He was a five-time All-Pro and part of all five of Lombardi’s championship teams in Green Bay. Among every player in NFL history who retired before 2010, nobody has more first-team NFL All-Pro selections than Kramer and isn’t in the Hall of Fame (Johnny Robinson and Jim Tyrer had six All-Pro nods but many of them were in the AFL). Kramer was named to the NFL’s 50th anniversary all-time team, but is the only member of that team not in the Hall. A big part of Lombardi’s success was the power sweep, and Kramer and fellow guard Fuzzy Thurston led the way for many yards and touchdowns on those plays.
Plenty of Kramer’s teammates from those famous Packers teams are in the Hall of Fame. If recent history serves, Kramer will officially get the call in a few months. Better late than never.
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