Oct 2, 2011; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packer former player Jerry Kramer on the field during halftime against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Broncos 49-23. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Fame Class of 2013: What about Jerry Kramer?

First of all congratulations to the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2013!  The class of Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson, and Warren Sapp is a very well deserving group and this article is not meant to question their selection.  There were some great finalists for the 2013 class that didn’t get in including Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams.  This article isn’t about these great players and their impending enshrinement into Canton, no this article is about a great player still waiting to receive the games highest honor.  Browsing through twitter Sunday night following the Super Bowl a retweet from Peter King caught my eye regarding Jerry Kramer.  Someone asked him why Kramer hadn’t made it into the HOF yet to which King replied with instructions to google his, Kramer and Bart Starrs names for the answer.  As a person who feels strongly that Kramer should have been inducted years ago I naturally went straight to Google and read the article written by King, which happened to be a section of his August 27th Monday Morning Quarterback article.  King makes some good points in the article about how Kramer was a finalist for the Hall of Fame a total of ten times, 9 times during his regular modern era eligibility period and once as a senior nominee, without being selected.  To King the fact that he made the list as a finalist ten times and was never selected stands as a valid reason to no longer consider Kramer for induction into the Hall of Fame.  He also concludes the article by relaying a conversation he had with Bart Starr regarding former Packers that he would recommend for the Hall, and Starr never mentioned Jerry Kramer.  With all due respect to Starr, I really don’t understand the value that this is supposed to add to King’s argument.  If Vince Lombardi, one of the most respected coaches of all time and a man who was constantly evaluating Kramer throughout his entire career, had failed to mention Kramer in an interview regarding players he felt were worthy of consideration then that would mean something. 

Let’s take a look at some of Jerry Kramer’s Hall of Fame credentials, since he played guard from 1958 to 1968 there are no statistics with which to support his case for induction.  Kramer’s accomplishments include: 5 time NFL Champion (61, 62, 65, 66, 67) which includes Super Bowls I & II, 3 time Pro-bowl selection, 6 time All-Pro selection (5 first team and 1 second team), member of the NFL’s 1960s all decade team, and a member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team (the only member not in the HOF).  Kramer was also the place kicker for the 1962 NFL Championship team, kicking 3 field goals and an extra point in the championship game against the New York Giants.  Kramer was also a key player (some say THE key player) in “The Block” during the Ice Bowl that sent the Packers to the Super Bowl to face the Oakland Raiders, where they became the only team in NFL history to win 3 straight championships. 

Jerry Kramer retired from the NFL following the 1968 season, playing in 129 of the 148 regular season games over his 11 year NFL career.  A player does not become eligible for the Hall of Fame until 5 years after their last game, and modern eligibility lasts for 15 years.  In King’s article he mentions Kramer’s modern eligibility expired after 1988 which would have made him eligible for induction from 1974 through 1988.  During that time period 67 people were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and only one (or 1.5%) of those players was a full time guard.  That player was Gene Upshaw who was inducted in 1987, the final year that Kramer was a finalist during his modern era eligibility.  Upshaw was a tremendous player so I am not arguing that it should have been Kramer over Upshaw.  Instead the argument should be how is it that he was the first, modern era full time guard to be enshrined?  Prior to the enshrinement of the 2013 class there are 273 members of the HOF, with 226 of those being modern era members.  Of the 226 modern era members in the Hall of Fame only 10 of them (4.4%)  played guard exclusively with only Upshaw having been inducted during Kramer’s eligibility.  King’s argument that Kramer shouldn’t be considered for the Senior Nomination into the Hall of Fame is based on the idea that he was given a fair shot to get in.  I would argue that the position of guard was so undervalued during his eligibility period that he ended up being a victim of circumstance.  During the first 25 years of the Hall of Fames existence only 1 full time guard was selected, during the 25 years since Upshaw became the first there have been 9 more guards enshrined with a 10th selected in the 2013 class (Larry Allen). 

The “Packer Sweep”, one of the most famous plays in history of professional football was made possible because of the quality of guards the Packers had.  In July of 2008 NFL Films released their Top Ten not in the Hall of Fame, which named Jerry Kramer as the player they consider most deserving.  The late Steve Sabol spent his entire life eating, breathing and living football, I will take the opinion of him and his colleagues at NFL Films over any other member of the media.  Kramer has been held out of the Hall of Fame for far too long so please write a member of the Senior Selection Committee http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/selectionprocess.aspx   Thank you for reading and as always Go Rams!!

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