It was a cold, blustery January day in Hot Springs, Virginia. Outside the wind was whipping through the Appalachia Mountains while flakes of snow started to fall. Inside the little house on Shriver's hill sat a man and a boy.
Christmas 1966 was less than a month past and as the boy sat entranced in front of the antique Zenith television; he held his favorite Christmas gift -- a football. As the images flickered on the screen his eyes were fixed on #64, Jerry Kramer. Overweight and socially awkward, the boy dreamed of life and adventure outside of this small mountain town and until he could travel himself, he was enthralled by the adventures he saw his hero, Kramer, have on the field.
As far as he was concerned the Green Bay Packers were the best team and Kramer was the best player on that team. The Packers, under the joint work of QB Bart Starr and RG Jerry Kramer went on to win that very first Super Bowl, defeating the Chiefs 35-10.
Now forty-five years later, that boy is within a week of having lunch with his childhood hero, Jerry Kramer. That boy is me and I think football fans should join me in helping to right a wrong.
Jerry Kramer was the right guard for the Green Bay Packers from 1958 -- 1968. The Packers were the powerhouse team of the period; winning five Championships in seven seasons they steamrolled over the competition in the National Football League (NFL).
The core of the Packer's offense was something Coach Vince Lombardi called the "Power Sweep". Lombardi emphasized to his players the team for team work and the power sweep personified this. While it required "all 11 men to play as one" as Lombardi frequently said, the role of the guards was the key to its success. There was none better than Kramer. Paul Hornung, a team mate of Kramer's during the Packer's shining years, said in his letter of recommendation to the voting committee of the Hall of Fame called Kramer, ""the perfect prototype of a right guard".
Kramer was selected as a Pro Bowler three times and named to the All-Pro team five times. He also was named to the 1960's All Decade Team, the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team and the NFL's 50th Anniversary All-Star Team.
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Kramer however is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Noted sportswriter Jim Murray said, "I cannot believe he is not yet in the Hall of Fame". Hornung agrees, saying "When you think of Hall of Fame guards, very few come to mind. However, when I think of great guards, I think of Jerry Kramer".
Speculation about Kramer's absence from the HoF is all over the map. Despite suggestions that his absence ranges from allegations of poor media relations to the idea that Kramer and his talent just got lost in the crowd of his teammates, fans throughout the country are speaking out.
A Facebook page has been started to get Kramer into the HoF class of 2013 and his website lists testimonials from teammates as well as former opponents all speaking with one voice and one message: Let's get Kramer into the Hall of Fame.
Letting Kramer go one more year without induction into Canton will be one of the biggest bonehead decisions made by the HoF voting committee. Point blank...it will be one of the biggest injustices in modern sports.
Jerry Nelson is a nationall recognized photojournalist who travels the country seeking out people, places and things that make this country great. His articles and photographs have appeared in CNN, USAToday, Huffington Post, Examiner and more. He co-hosts a regular weekly national radio show that highlights his adventures and the people he meets.
I am an American freelance writer and ghostwriter now living the expat life in Argentina. Never far from my coffee and Marlboros, I am always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Join the million-or-so who follow my life and (more...)