Jerry Kramer

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Jerry Kramer
No. 64
Guard, Kicker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1936-01-23) January 23, 1936 (age 78)
Place of birth: 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
Debuted in 1958 for the Green Bay Packers
Last played in 1968 for the Green Bay Packers
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • Pro Bowl (1962, 1963, 1967)
  • 5× First-team All-Pro (1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967)
  • Second-team All-Pro (1968)
  • 5× NFL champion (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967)
  • Super Bowl champion (I, II)
  • NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
  • NFL 50th Anniversary Team
  • Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame
Stats at pro-football-reference.com

Gerald Louis "Jerry" Kramer (born January 23, 1936) is an American former professional 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. As a 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), 245-pound (111 kg) right guard, Kramer was an integral part of the famous "Packer 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, but surprisingly, even after appearing on the list of finalists ten times since becoming eligible, has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was rated No. 1 in NFL Network's Top 10 list of players not in the Hall of Fame.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

Born in eastern Montana in Jordan, Jerry 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,[3] he accepted a football scholarship to the University of Idaho to play for new coach Skip Stahley. In that era, Idaho was a member of the Pacific Coast Conference, the forerunner of the Pac-12.

Kramer was a standout player for the Vandals, along with teammate (and roommate) Wayne Walker of Boise, a future All-Pro linebacker with the Detroit Lions. Both played in the East-West Shrine Game and the College All-Star Game that summer, in which they defeated the defending NFL champion Lions. Kramer would have his uniform number 64 retired by the university.

While at Idaho, Kramer joined Sigma Nu fraternity.

NFL career[edit]

Kramer was the 39th player selected in the 1958 NFL Draft, taken in the fourth round by the Green Bay Packers. Two 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).[4] Kramer played every game in his rookie season of 1958 but the Packers finished with the worst record (1-10-1) in the 12-team league. In January 1959, the Packers hired a new head coach, Vince Lombardi, the offensive coach of the New York Giants.[5][6]

“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[7]

With Kramer playing right guard, the Packers won five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. Kramer also served as the team's place kicker in 1962, 1963, and part of 1968. As a kicker, he kicked 29 field goals, 90 extra points, for a total of 177 points. He also kicked 3 field goals and 1 extra point in the Packers 16-7 victory over the New York Giants in the 1962 NFL title game. In college at Idaho, he was also a kicker, with Wayne Walker as his long snapper.

During his career, Kramer was often injured. Among these were surgery to remove sizable wood fragments embedded in his abdomen from a teenage accident, 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."[8] 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. He is a member of the NFL's 50th Anniversary All-Time team,[9] and the only member of that team not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Author[edit]

In his penultimate season of 1967, Kramer collaborated with Dick Schaap on his first book, the best-selling Instant Replay,[10] 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. After that season, in which the aging Packers fell to a record of 6-7-1, Kramer wrote a second book, Farewell to Football. After retiring in May 1969,[11] Kramer briefly worked as a color commentator on CBS National Football League telecasts.

In 1970, following the death of Vince Lombardi, 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.[12]

In October 2005, he released Inside the Locker Room a CD set that includes Vince Lombardi’s final locker room address as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, immediately after Super Bowl II. In September 2006, Kramer re-released his 1968 best seller, Instant Replay.[13]

Health issues[edit]

Kramer was noteworthy for overcoming a series of accidents and health issues prior to and during his professional football career.[14][15] 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.[16] He reclaimed his starting position in 1965 and the Packers won three straight NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls.

Personal[edit]

After retirement from the NFL, Kramer lived on a ranch near Parma in southwestern Idaho with his second wife, Edwina (Wink) and their three children, but now live in Boise.[17] Kramer has 6 children and 4 grandchildren. His youngest sons, Matt and Jordan, also played college football at 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.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Top Ten Not in HOF: # 1 - Jerry Kramer". NFL Video Galleries. 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  2. ^ "Jerry Kramer". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ Plaster, Billie Jean. "Jerry Kramer, Right Guard". Sandpoint Magazine. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Packers sign five players taken recently in draft". Milwaukee Journal. December 26, 1957. p. 19. 
  5. ^ "Lombardi picked as Packers' coach". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. January 28, 1959. p. 1-final. 
  6. ^ Lea, Bud (January 29, 1959). "Lombardi Packers GM-Coach". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 4-part 2. 
  7. ^ "NFL Legends: Jerry Kramer". Bleacher Report. CBS Sports. November 28, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  8. ^ Kramer, Jerry (1969). Farewell to Football. New York, NY: Maddick Manuscripts Inc. p. 47. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer And Dick Schapp". Doubleday Books. Random Houae. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  11. ^ Lea, Bud (May 23, 1969). "Bengston tells why Kramer quit at 33". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1-part 2. 
  12. ^ McGovern, Mike (September 21, 1986). "Kramer's 'Distant Replay' is packed with better times". Reading Eagle. p. C-7. 
  13. ^ "Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer And Dick Schapp - Hardcover". Random House. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Jerry has had it". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. December 26, 1957. p. 19. 
  15. ^ Murray, Jim (August 28, 1969). "Kramer: born loser who keeps winning". Milwaukee Sentinel. (Los Angeles Times). p. 1-part 2. 
  16. ^ "Jerry Kramer back in action". Leader-Post. NEA. September 22, 1965. p. 33. 
  17. ^ a b Idaho Press-Tribune - Kramer remembers gridiron life - Football great enjoys exciting year, strives to make living better for others – 2011-04-02

External links[edit]