|Date of birth:||June 24, 1935|
|Place of birth:||Girard, Kansas|
|Date of death:||September 11, 2010(aged 75)|
|Place of death:||Fenton, Michigan|
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight:||234 lb (106 kg)|
|NFL Draft:||1957 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4|
|Drafted by:||Green Bay Packers|
|Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
Ronald John Kramer (June 24, 1935 – September 11, 2010) was a multi-sport college athlete and professional American football player. Before embarking on a career in the National Football League (NFL), he lettered in football, basketball, and track at the University of Michigan in the 1950s. Playing at end for the Michigan Wolverines football team from 1954 to 1956, Kramer was a three-time All-American. Following his days at Michigan, Kramer was selected in the first round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He played for the Packers for seven seasons (1957, 1959–1964) and three more with the Detroit Lions (1965–1967). Kramer was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1978. His football jersey number at Michigan (#87) was retired upon his graduation.
Early life and college career
Kramer began his sports career playing for East Detroit High School in Eastpointe, Michigan. In the tradition of Michigan athletes, he is considered to be ranked among the best. A three-sport athlete (football, basketball and track), Kramer led both the football and basketball teams in scoring for two years. Altogether, Kramer won a total of nine varsity letters in his three sports—the maximum number possible, as freshmen did not have athletic eligibility at the time.
Kramer's credits include two consensus football All-American selections (1955 and 1956), the retirement of his jersey number (87) by the Wolverines following his senior season (one of only five numbers in school history to be retired), and the selection as the basketball team's most valuable player in each of his three seasons. As basketball team captain, he was third-team All-Big Ten in 1957 after being second-team All-Big Ten in both 1955 and 1956. During his junior year, he averaged 20.4 points per game over a 22-game season and is a member of the career 1000-point club. He held the Michigan Wolverines men's basketball career scoring record of 1119 points from 1957 until it was broken by John Tidwell in 1961.
Kramer was the 4th overall selection in the 1957 NFL Draft, picked by the Green Bay Packers, as part of a first round that also included future Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Len Dawson, Jim Parker, and his future Packers teammate Paul Hornung (the Packers were given the special "bonus pick" for the draft that year, giving Green Bay the number 1 and number 4 picks in the first round).
Kramer went on to become an integral part of the early years of the Packers dynasty of the 1960s under head coach Vince Lombardi, playing the position of tight end. Because of his massive size for the time (6'3", 243 lb.), Kramer was affectionately known by fans as "The Big Oaf." In the 1961 NFL Championship Game, Kramer was the game's leading receiver, catching 4 passes for 80 yards and 2 touchdown receptions in the Packers 37-0 win over the New York Giants, the Packers' first NFL title since 1944.
In 1962, Kramer was named to his only Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams. From 1961 to 1964, Kramer had at least 550 yards receiving every season, averaging over 15 yards per reception.
In 1965, Kramer was sent to the Detroit Lions, where he played his final three seasons. Kramer retired after the 1967 season, with 229 receptions for 3,272 yards and 16 touchdown receptions. 15 of those touchdown receptions came in a three-year stretch for Kramer, from 1961 to 1963. In his final four seasons, he only caught one touchdown reception, with the Lions in 1965.
Honors and death
Kramer was elected into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1971. In 1981, he was named as a recipient of the NCAA's Silver Anniversary Award in recognition of significant professional and civic contributions spanning 25 years after completion of his college eligibility.
Bennie Oosterbaan, Kramer's football coach at Michigan, described his blocking and tackling ability as his most valuable asset. Oosterbaan said this of his star player:
"To top off his marvelous physical gifts of size and speed and strength, plus an uncanny coordination, Kramer was one of the fiercest competitors I've ever seen. Nothing was impossible for him — the impossible was only a challenge."
In 1999, Sports Illustrated published a list of "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Michigan" (in all sports), and ranked Kramer seventh on the list behind Joe Louis, Magic Johnson, Charlie Gehringer, Bennie Oosterbaan, Hal Newhouser and Dave DeBusschere. "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Michigan," Sports Illustrated, December 27, 1999. He was ranked ahead of many legendary Michigan Wolverines football figures, including Fielding H. Yost (#9), Rick Leach (#22), Fritz Crisler (#31) and Harry Kipke (#40).
Kramer died in September 2010 at age 75.
On September 15, 2012, Kramer was recognized as a Michigan Football Legend and his jersey (#87) was unretired and given to Brandon Moore. Each player honored with the No. 87 jersey will wear a patch over the left upper chest honoring Kramer, and dress at a locker labeled with a plaque bearing his name and time of tenure at Michigan.
- List of Michigan Wolverines football All-Americans
- 1954 College Football All-America Team
- 1955 College Football All-America Team
- 1956 College Football All-America Team
- 1956–57 Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team
- Lists of Michigan Wolverines football receiving leaders
- University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor
- 2007-08 Men's Basketball Media Guide. University of Michigan. 2007. p. 147.
- Michigan Basketball 2007-08 (media guide).
- 2007-08 Men's Basketball Media Guide. University of Michigan. 2007. p. 162.
- Mark Snyder (September 11, 2010). "U-M great Ron Kramer dead at 75". Detroit Free Press.
- "Kramer Recognized as Michigan Football Legend, Moore to Wear No. 87".