Jerry Kramer

Last updated

Jerry Kramer
Jerry Kramer Topps 1959.jpg
Kramer on his 1959 Topps trading card
No. 64
Position: Guard,
Kicker
Personal information
Born: (1936-01-23) January 23, 1936 (age 85)
Jordan, Montana
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High school: Sandpoint (Sandpoint, Idaho)
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  ·  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.

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 National Football League 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1969.

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 quoted something his high school coach had often told him: "You can if you will". [3] [4]

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]

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]

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]

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.

Kramer also did some broadcasting as color commentary for the NFL on NBC - Week 2 , with Chuck Thompson on the play-by-play, Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills , on September 11, 1988.

Work as 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 bestseller, 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 a board, shattering it and shooting a 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 life

After retirement from the NFL, Kramer lived on a ranch near Parma in southwestern Idaho with his second wife Wink, [49] then later moved to Boise. [50] 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 after the Montana town in which Kramer was born, [51] played two seasons in the NFL as a linebacker with the Tennessee Titans in 2003 and 2004. [50]

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. [52]

Related Research Articles

Ray Nitschke American football player

Raymond Ernest Nitschke was a professional American football middle linebacker who spent his entire 15-year National Football League (NFL) career with the Green Bay Packers.Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978, he was the anchor of the defense for head coach Vince Lombardi in the 1960s, leading the Packers to five NFL championships and victories in the first two Super Bowls.

Jim Taylor (fullback) American footballer (1935–2018)

James Charles Taylor was an American football fullback who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for ten seasons, with the Green Bay Packers from 1958 to 1966 and with the expansion New Orleans Saints in 1967. With the Packers, Taylor was invited to five straight Pro Bowls and won four NFL championships, as well as a victory in the first Super Bowl. He was recognized as the NFL Most Valuable Player after winning the rushing title in 1962, beating out Jim Brown. An aggressive player and fluent trash talker, Taylor developed several personal rivalries throughout his career, most notably with New York Giants linebacker Sam Huff. This confrontational attitude, combined with his tenacious running style, a penchant for contact, and ability to both withstand and deliver blows, earned him a reputation as one of the league's toughest players.

Willie Wood American football safety

William Vernell Wood Sr. was an American professional football player and coach. He played as a safety with the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League (NFL). Wood was an eight-time Pro Bowler and a nine-time All-Pro. In 1989, Wood was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ron Kramer American basketball player, gridiron football player and athletics competitor

Ronald John Kramer was a multi-sport college athlete and professional American football player.

Dan Currie American football player

Daniel George Currie was an American football player in the National Football League (NFL). He played linebacker for nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams.

Jim Ringo American football player and coach

James Stephen Ringo was a professional American football player, a Hall of Fame center, and coach in the National Football League (NFL). He was a 10-time Pro Bowler during his 15-year playing career.

Bill Austin (American football, born 1928) American football player and coach

William Lee Austin was an American football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL). He played as a lineman for the New York Giants for seven seasons, was the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers for three seasons, (1966–1968) and one for the Washington Redskins in 1970.

Tony Knap

Anthony Joseph Knap was an American football coach. He was the head coach at Utah State University (1963–1966), Boise State University (1968–1975), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (1976–1981). He compiled a career college football record of 143–53–4 (.725). Knap also worked as a high school teacher and coach, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

The 1967 Green Bay Packers season was their 49th season overall and their 47th season in the National Football League and resulted in a 9–4–1 record and a victory in Super Bowl II. The team beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship Game, a game commonly known as the "Ice Bowl," which marked the second time the Packers had won an NFL-record third consecutive NFL championship, having also done so in 1931 under team founder Curly Lambeau. In the playoff era, it remains the only time a team has won three consecutive NFL titles.

Gale Herbert Gillingham was a professional football player, a guard for ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the Green Bay Packers.

James Francis Prestel is a former professional football player, a defensive lineman in the National Football League in the 1960s.

The 1958 Green Bay Packers season was their 40th season overall and their 38th season in the National Football League. The team finished with a 1–10–1 record under first-year head coach Ray McLean for a last-place finish in the league in 1958 and the worst record ever posted by a Packers team.

Joe Francis (American football) American gridiron football player

Joseph Charles Naekauna Francis Jr. was an American football halfback and quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) and the Canadian Football League (CFL). Following his playing career, he was a high school football head coach in his native Hawaii.

The 1964 Green Bay Packers season was their 46th season overall and their 44th season in the National Football League. The team was led by sixth-year head coach Vince Lombardi, and tied for second place in the Western Conference at 8–5–1.

Herbert Anthony Adderley was an American professional football player who was a cornerback for the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). In 1980, he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jerome Wayne "Jerry" Hendren was an American football player, a wide receiver who played one season in the National Football League, with the Denver Broncos in 1970.

The 1957 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1957 NCAA University Division football season. The Vandals were led by fourth-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. Led on the field by quarterbacks Howard Willis and Gary Kenworthy, Idaho compiled a 4–4–1 overall record and were 0–3 in the PCC.

The 1956 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1956 NCAA University Division football season. The Vandals were led by third-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. Idaho compiled a 4–5 overall record but were 0–4 in the PCC. After four losses to open, the Vandals won three straight, then split the final two games.

The 1958 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1958 NCAA University Division football season. The Vandals were led by fifth-year head coach Skip Stahley and were members of the Pacific Coast Conference, which disbanded the following spring. 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.

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.

References

  1. "Top Ten Not in HOF: # 1 - Jerry Kramer". NFL Video Galleries. July 31, 2008. Retrieved February 8, 2009.
  2. "Jerry Kramer". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  3. McFadden, Ryan; Stites, Adam (August 5, 2018). "The best moments from the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony" . Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  4. Tripp, Darnay; Carroll, Megan (August 3, 2018). "After 50 years of waiting, Jerry Kramer becomes 18th offensive guard to enter the Hall of Fame". KREM CBS 2. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  5. Plaster, Billie Jean. "Jerry Kramer, Right Guard". Sandpoint Magazine. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  6. Plummer, Eric (October 10, 2015). "'An overwhelming mess of emotions'". Coeur d'Alene Press. (Idaho). Hagadone News Network. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  7. "Football: 1956 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1957. p. 233.
  8. "Football: 1957 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1958. p. 134.
  9. Paull, Becky (Spring 2011). "Catching up with Jerry Kramer". Here we have Idaho. (UI alumni magazine). p. 34.
  10. "Battle of the Palouse". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). November 15, 1957. p. 13.
  11. "Idaho linemen shine as West topples favored East, 27-13". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 29, 1957. p. 8.
  12. Boni, Bill (December 29, 1957). "West whips East, 27-13". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 1, sports.
  13. 1 2 "Kramer, Walker drafted by pros; trio to Shrine". Idaho Argonaut. (Moscow). University of Idaho. December 3, 1957. p. 4.
  14. "Kramer makes all-Star starting lineup". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. August 15, 1958. p. 9.
  15. "College star eleven upsets pros, 35-19". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. August 16, 1958. p. 8.
  16. "Senior Bowl rosters". Milwaukee Journal. January 10, 1958. p. 16, part 2.
  17. "Vandal starter". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. January 10, 1958. p. 11.
  18. "Friends honor Jerry Kramer at Sandpoint". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. January 24, 1963. p. 2.
  19. "Idaho retires jersey No. 64". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). January 24, 1963. p. 16.
  20. "Football: 1955 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1956. p. 284.
  21. "Football: 1954 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1955. p. 203.
  22. "Sigma Nu". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1957. p. 227.
  23. "Track: 1957 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1957. p. 263.
  24. "Packers sign five players taken recently in draft". Milwaukee Journal. December 26, 1957. p. 19.
  25. "Lombardi picked as Packers' coach". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. January 28, 1959. p. 1-final.
  26. Lea, Bud (January 29, 1959). "Lombardi Packers GM-Coach". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 4-part 2.
  27. "NFL Legends: Jerry Kramer". Bleacher Report. CBS Sports. November 28, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  28. "Packers grind out grim 16-7 win". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 31, 1962. p. 8.
  29. "Kramer kicks quiet laughs". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. November 8, 1963. p. 12.
  30. "Splinters from old injury caused Kramer's illness". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. May 12, 1965. p. 15.
  31. 1 2 "Kramer surveys". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. May 13, 1965. p. 24.
  32. 1 2 "(Photo)". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. May 13, 1965. p. 12, part 2.
  33. Kramer, Jerry (1969). Farewell to Football. New York, NY: Maddick Manuscripts Inc. p. 47.
  34. Spencer, Sheldon (April 14, 2010). "Fourth Round: Idaho's '58 specials- College teammates, roommates Kramer and Walker were fourth-round finds, NFL stars". NFL Draft 2010. ESPN.com. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  35. "Hall of Very Good". Archived from the original on April 7, 2019. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  36. "Packers legend Jerry Kramer named Pro Football Hall of Fame senior finalist" . Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  37. WBAY Staff. "He's In! Jerry Kramer voted into Pro Football Hall of Fame" . Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  38. "Jerry Kramer finally gets his Hall of Fame ticket". ProFootballTalk. February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  39. "Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer And Dick Schapp". Doubleday Books. Random Houae. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  40. Lea, Bud (May 23, 1969). "Bengston tells why Kramer quit at 33". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1-part 2.
  41. "Kramer confirms: he's retiring". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. May 23, 1969. p. 33.
  42. "Cancer fatal to Lombardi". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. September 4, 1970. p. 16.
  43. McGovern, Mike (September 21, 1986). "Kramer's 'Distant Replay' is packed with better times". Reading Eagle. p. C-7.
  44. "Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer And Dick Schapp - Hardcover". Random House. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  45. 1 2 3 4 "Jerry has had it". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. December 26, 1957. p. 19.
  46. Murray, Jim (August 28, 1969). "Kramer: born loser who keeps winning". Milwaukee Sentinel. (Los Angeles Times). p. 1-part 2.
  47. "Jerry Kramer back in action". Leader-Post. NEA. September 22, 1965. p. 33.
  48. "Jerry Kramer's son makes name in track and field". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). Associated Press. April 2, 1994. p. 12D.
  49. 1 2 Idaho Press-Tribune - Kramer remembers gridiron life - Football great enjoys exciting year, strives to make living better for others – April 2, 2011
  50. "Jerry Kramer Hall Of Fame". Jerry Kramer. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  51. "Jerry Kramer's Super Bowl I ring sells for $125K at auction". ESPN. Associated Press. February 21, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2017.