Jerry Kramer

Last updated

Jerry Kramer
Jerry Kramer Topps 1959.jpg
Kramer on his 1959 Topps trading card
No. 64
Position: Offensive guard, Placekicker
Personal information
Born: (1936-01-23) January 23, 1936 (age 83)
Jordan, Montana
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High school: Sandpoint (ID)
College: Idaho
NFL Draft: 1958  / Round:  4  / Pick: 39
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:130
Field goals:29/54 (53.7%)
Extra points:90/95 (94.7%)
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Gerald Louis Kramer (born January 23, 1936) is a former professional American football player, author and sports commentator, best remembered for his 11-year National Football League (NFL) career with the Green Bay Packers as an offensive lineman.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team with possession of the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without possession of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays; if they fail, they turn over the football to the defense, but if they succeed, they are given a new set of four downs to continue the drive. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

National Football League Professional American football league

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held on the first Sunday in February and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

Green Bay Packers National Football League franchise in Green Bay, Wisconsin

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) North division. It is the third-oldest franchise in the NFL, dating back to 1919, and is the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team based in the United States. Home games have been played at Lambeau Field since 1957.

Contents

As a 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), 245-pound (111 kg) right guard, Kramer was an integral part of the famous Packers sweep, a signature play in which both guards rapidly pull out from their normal positions and lead block for the running back going around the end. Kramer was an All-Pro five times, and a member of the NFL's 50th anniversary team in 1969.

The Packers sweep, also known as the Lombardi sweep, is an American football play popularized by Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The Packers sweep is based on the sweep, a football play that involves a back taking a handoff and running parallel to the line of scrimmage before turning upfield behind lead blockers. The play became noteworthy due to its extensive use by the Packers in the 1960s, when the team won five National Football League (NFL) Championships, as well as the first two Super Bowls. Lombardi used the play as the foundation on which the rest of the team's offensive game plan was built. The dominance of the play, as well as the sustained success of Lombardi's teams in the 1960s, solidified the Packers sweep's reputation as one of the most famous football plays in history.

All-Pro is an honor bestowed upon professional American football players that designates the best player at each position during a given season. All-Pro players are typically selected by press organizations, who select an "All-Pro team," a list that consists of at least 22 players, one for each offensive and defensive position, plus various special teams players depending on the press organization that compiles the list. All-Pro lists are exclusively limited to the major leagues, usually only the National Football League; in the past, other leagues recognized as major, such as the American Football League of the 1960s or the All-America Football Conference of the 1940s, have been included in All-Pro lists.

1969 NFL season Sport season

The 1969 NFL season was the 50th regular season of the National Football League, and the last one before the AFL-NFL Merger. To honor the NFL's fiftieth season, a special anniversary logo was designed and each player wore a patch on their jerseys with this logo throughout the season.

Before his election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018 at age 82, Kramer was noted for being a finalist for the Hall ten times without being voted in. In 2008, he was rated No. 1 in NFL Network's Top 10 list of players not in the Hall. [1] [2] Kramer was inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 4, 2018. At his induction speech, he often quoted something his high school coach had told him: "You can if you will". [3] [4]

Pro Football Hall of Fame Professional sports hall of fame in Canton, Ohio

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame for professional American football, located in Canton, Ohio. Opened in 1963, the Hall of Fame enshrines exceptional figures in the sport of professional football, including players, coaches, franchise owners, and front-office personnel, almost all of whom made their primary contributions to the game in the National Football League (NFL); the Hall inducts between four and eight new enshrinees each year. The Hall of Fame's Mission is to "Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE."

NFL Network American sports-oriented cable and satellite television network

NFL Network is an American sports-oriented pay television network that is owned by the National Football League (NFL) and is part of NFL Media, which also includes NFL.com, NFL Films, NFL Mobile, NFL Now and NFL RedZone. Dedicated to American football, the network features game telecasts from the NFL, as well as NFL-related content including analysis programs, specials and documentaries. The network is headquartered in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City, California, and broadcasts its worldwide feed from Encompass Digital Media in Atlanta, Georgia.

NFL Top 10 is a documentary program produced by NFL Films for airing on the NFL Network. The host and narrator is Derrin Horton.

Early years

Born in eastern Montana in Jordan, Kramer moved with his parents and five siblings from northern Utah to northern Idaho when he was in the fourth grade, settling in Sandpoint. After graduating from Sandpoint High School in 1954, [5] [6] he accepted a football scholarship to the University of Idaho in Moscow to play for new head coach Skip Stahley. [7] In that era, Idaho was a member of the Pacific Coast Conference, the forerunner of the Pac-12. [8]

Montana U.S. state in the United States

Montana is a state in the Northwestern United States. Montana has several nicknames, although none is official, including "Big Sky Country" and "The Treasure State", and slogans that include "Land of the Shining Mountains" and more recently "The Last Best Place".

Jordan, Montana Town in Montana, United States

Jordan is a town in and the county seat of Garfield County, Montana, United States. The population was 343 at the 2010 census. It is Garfield County's only incorporated community.

Utah U.S. state in the United States

Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 30th-most-populous, and 11th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2016. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents. Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

Kramer was a standout two-way player for the Vandals, [9] along with teammate (and road roommate) Wayne Walker of Boise, [10] a future All-Pro linebacker with the Detroit Lions. Following the 1957 season, both played on the winning side in the East-West Shrine Game in late December in San Francisco, [11] [12] [13] and at the College All-Star Game in Chicago in mid-August, [14] in which they defeated the defending NFL champion Lions. [15] Kramer was also a starter for the winning North team in the Senior Bowl in January in Mobile, Alabama. [16] [17]

Idaho Vandals football Football team representing the University of Idaho

The Idaho Vandals are the college football team that represents the University of Idaho and plays its home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho. Idaho is a member of the Big Sky Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The current head coach is Paul Petrino, who began his tenure in 2013.

Wayne Harrison Walker was an American professional football player and sports broadcaster. He played fifteen seasons with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League, as a linebacker and placekicker. Walker played in 200 regular season games, the second most for a defensive player at the time. He played in three Pro Bowls and was thrice selected as a first-team All-NFL player. After the 1972 season, he retired as a player and was a sports broadcaster for CBS and the sports director for KPIX-TV in San Francisco from 1974 to 1994. Walker was a weekend sportscaster during the off-season during his later years as a Detroit Lion.

Boise High School United States national historic site

Boise High School is a public secondary school in Boise, Idaho, one of five traditional high schools within the city limits, four of which are in the Boise School District. A three-year comprehensive high school, Boise High is located on the outerlying edge of the city's downtown business core. The enrollment for the 2014–15 school year was approximately 1,480.

Kramer's number 64 was retired by the university in 1963, on his 27th birthday. [18] [19] (He wore #74 as a sophomore tackle in 1955, [20] and #57 on the freshman team in 1954.) [21] While at UI, Kramer joined Sigma Nu fraternity, [22] and also lettered in track and field (discus and shot put). [23]

The 1955 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1955 college football season. The Vandals were led by second-year head coach Skip Stahley and were members of the Pacific Coast Conference. Home games were played on campus at Neale Stadium in Moscow, with one home game in Boise at old Bronco Stadium at Boise Junior College.

Sigma Nu Undergraduate college fraternity founded at the Virginia Military Institute

Sigma Nu (ΣΝ) is an undergraduate college fraternity founded at the Virginia Military Institute on January 1, 1869. The fraternity was founded by James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles and James McIlvaine Riley shortly after Hopkins witnessed what he considered a hazing ritual by upperclassmen at the Virginia Military Institute. The fraternity's existence remained secret until the founders publicly announced their new society on January 1, 1869. Since its founding, Sigma Nu has more than 279 active and inactive chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada and has initiated more than 227,000 members. Sigma Nu, Kappa Alpha Order and Alpha Tau Omega make up the Lexington Triad.

Fraternities and sororities, or Greek letter organizations (GLOs), are social organizations at colleges and universities. A form of the social fraternity, they are prominent in the United States and the Philippines, with much smaller numbers existing in France, Canada, and elsewhere. Similar organizations exist in other countries as well, including the Studentenverbindungen of German-speaking countries or the Goliardia in Italy.

NFL career

Kramer was the 39th selection of the 1958 NFL Draft, taken in the fourth round by the Green Bay Packers. [13] Two other hall of famers for the Packers were taken in this draft: fullback Jim Taylor of LSU in the second round (15th overall), and linebacker Ray Nitschke of Illinois in the third round (36th overall). [24] Kramer played every game in his rookie season of 1958 under first-year head coach Ray "Scooter" McLean, but the Packers finished with the worst record (1–10–1) in the twelve-team league. In January 1959, the Packers hired a new head coach, Vince Lombardi, the offensive coach of the New York Giants. [25] [26]

Jerry Kramer did not know how good he was when he first joined the Green Bay Packers. You'd be surprised how much confidence a little success will bring.

Vince Lombardi [27]

With Kramer playing right guard, the Packers won five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. He was also the team's placekicker in 1962, 1963, and part of 1968. As a kicker, he made 29 field goals, 90 extra points, for a total of 177 points. He also scored ten points, on three field goals and an extra point, in the Packers 16−7 victory over the New York Giants in the 1962 NFL Championship Game at frigid Yankee Stadium. [28] In 1963, he was jovially described as "the best knuckleball kicker in the NFL." [29] In college at Idaho, he was also a kicker, with Walker as his long snapper; Walker was also a part-time kicker in the NFL for Detroit.

During his NFL career, Kramer was often injured: among these were surgery to remove sizable wood fragments embedded in his abdomen from a teenage accident over a decade earlier, [30] [31] [32] [33] and a badly injured ankle suffered in 1961. In all, Kramer played in 129 regular season games; he also had 22 surgeries in 11 seasons, including a colostomy, which he described as "a horror movie that hasn't been made yet." [34] Despite these setbacks, Kramer was selected as an All-Pro five times (1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, and 1967); he was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. Kramer is a member of the NFL's 50th Anniversary All-Time team, [35] and was the final member of the team to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2003, he was named to the Professional Football Researchers Association Hall of Very Good in the association's inaugural HOVG class [36]

On August 24, 2017, Kramer and Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile were named as Seniors Committee finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for 2018. [37] On February 3, 2018 both were selected for induction into the Hall of Fame as part of its 2018 class, [38] [39] with induction occurring on Saturday, August 4.

Author

In his penultimate season of 1967, Kramer collaborated with Dick Schaap on his first book, the best-selling Instant Replay , [40] a diary of the season which chronicled the life of a professional football offensive lineman. The book climaxed with Kramer's lead block in front of Bart Starr to win the "Ice Bowl" championship game. Kramer and Schaap wrote two more books together. Kramer played one more year, under new head coach Phil Bengtson in 1968. Following that season, in which the aging Packers fell to a record of 6–7–1 and missed the playoffs, he wrote a second book, Farewell to Football. After retiring as a player in May 1969, [41] [42] Kramer briefly worked as a color commentator on CBS' NFL telecasts.

Following Lombardi's death from cancer in 1970, [43] Kramer edited Lombardi: Winning Is the Only Thing, a collection of reminiscences from coaches, players, friends and family of Lombardi whom Kramer interviewed for the book.

In 1985, Kramer wrote Distant Replay, which updated the whereabouts of the members of the Packers' Super Bowl I championship team following a team reunion at Lambeau Field during the 1984 season. [44]

In October 2005, he released Inside the Locker Room, a CD set that includes Lombardi's final locker room address as the head coach of the Packers in January 1968, immediately after Super Bowl II. In September 2006, Kramer re-released his 1968 best seller, Instant Replay. [45]

Health issues

Kramer was noteworthy for overcoming a series of accidents and health issues prior to and during his professional football career. [46] [47] The most serious was in 1964; he played the first two games then missed the rest of the season, later diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic with actinomycosis. [48] After his wood fragment removal surgery in May 1965, [30] [32] [33] he reclaimed his starting position at right guard and the Packers won three straight NFL titles (and the first two Super Bowls) and he was a first-team All-Pro twice more.

The original accident in the summer of 1953 occurred when Kramer was chasing a calf on his family's farm and the calf stepped on board, shattering it and shooting lance-shaped splinter of wood into Kramer's abdomen; after piercing his abdomen, the splinter partially exited Kramer's back between two vertebrae. Doctors cut the piece in two and pulled it out front and back; two weeks later, Kramer was at pre-season football practice at Sandpoint High School for his senior season. [46] As a freshman, he backed into a lathe in shop class and incurred muscle damage to a hip, and was later in a car accident. While hunting, Kramer's shotgun exploded, which significantly injured his right forearm. He suffered broken bones, torn muscles, and nerve damage, which required plastic surgery and skin grafts. Some of the lead shot also penetrated his liver. To this day, Kramer cannot use the little finger on his right hand. [46]

In college at Idaho, Kramer was on the field for nearly every play until the final game when he incurred a minor knee injury. [46] He played in two All-Star games shortly after.

Personal

After retirement from the NFL, Kramer lived on a ranch near Parma in southwestern Idaho with his second wife Wink, then later moved to Boise. [49] Twice divorced, Kramer has six children: Tony, Diane, Daniel, Alicia, Matthew, and Jordan. He has five grandchildren. His youngest sons, Matt and Jordan Kramer, also played college football at the University of Idaho. Jordan, named in memory of Hall of Fame defensive tackle Henry Jordan,[ citation needed ] played two seasons in the NFL as a linebacker with the Tennessee Titans in 2003 and 2004. [49]

After turning eighty in early 2016, Kramer auctioned off several items of memorabilia to raise college funds for his grandchildren, including his ring from the first Super Bowl, which was sold for $125,000. [50]

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