On The Outside Looking in: The Curious HOF Snub of Packers Great Jerry Kramer

The date is December 31, 1967. Lambeau Field, Green Bay Wisconsin.
Green Bay Packers – Western Conference Champion vs. Dallas Cowboys – Eastern Conference Champion in the NFL Championship Game.

The visual of “The Play” that day is so clear. With just seconds on-the-clock and no time-outs remaining, Bart Starr sneaks over the goal line for the winning score. The block that made it all happen was from none other than All-Pro right guard Jerry Kramer.

It is arguably the single-most iconic play in the long history of the NFL’s most storied franchise.

The ‘Ice Bowl’ as it would ultimately be called, is one of the greatest NFL games ever played. It forever cemented the legacy of Coach Vince Lombardi and the 9 NFL Hall of Fame Players/Coaches on that team.

Jerry Kramer was highly decorated

Jerry Kramer was as good as there was. All-Pro at his position three times, elected to NFL’s 1960’s All-Decade Team and the NFL 50 Year Anniversary Team. He was the only guard selected to that 50th Anniversary team. A high honor indeed.

Kramer played in three pro-bowls during his career and was named to five all-pro teams.

With Kramer at right guard, and Fuzzy Thurston at left guard, the Packers won five NFL titles and Super Bowl’s I and II. The versatile Kramer also served as the team’s place kicker in 1962, 1963, and part of 1968. For his career he kicked 29 field goals and 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.

Yet despite his decorated playing career the ultimate honor eludes him: selection into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Kramer has appeared on the list of finalists ten times since becoming eligible, but has not been inducted. He was rated No. 1 in NFL Network’s Top 10 list of players not in the Hall of Fame. Kramer was nominated the first year of his eligibility in 1974. Now more than 40-years later the wait continues.

Snubbed

But why snub one of the best ever to play his position?

No one seems to know for sure, but there are many opinions. The most prevalent thought is that there are a plethora of Lombardi’s Packers elected to Canton and you can’t put them all in.

Alicia Kramer, Jerry’s adoring daughter, has made a life’s work to ensure that Jerry Kramer is rightfully elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. Per Ms. Kramer; ‘My mission: Having my father and Green Bay Packer great, #64 Jerry Kramer, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.’

Alicia recalls a time when current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asked Jerry why he does not attend the annual Hall of Fame festivities. When the 79 year-old Kramer told the commissioner that he was not in the Hall, Goodell was dumb-founded.

For 10 years, Kramer came up as a finalist and was denied the honor, the most anyone has been a finalist and not been inducted. Jerry finds himself at the mercy of the senior voting committee. The nine-member panel reviews 80-90 candidates — retired for 25 years or more — each year before paring the list down to 15 finalists. A rotating group of five senior voters with the help of two players already enshrined select two finalists each year.

Those two finalists need 80 percent of the vote from the overall panel of 46 people for the honor of joining the other 295 NFL HOF members.

You May Be Able to Help Alicia Kramer

Can “Joe Fan” do anything to aid Alicia in getting her father into the Hall?

According to Alicia Kramer there is. First you need to have him nominated to be on the ballot. That happens when a committee meets each year for special consideration of ‘senior members’ – those players who have left the game years before. No more than two senior members are elected each year. The committee considers comments from fans.

Ms. Kramer asks for your politely written letters, requesting the committee’s consideration of her father’s credentials for enshrinement in the NFL HOF, and mail to the Senior Committee:

Pro Football Hall of Fame
Attention: Senior Selection Committee
2121 George Halas Dr. NW
Canton, OH 44708

An apparel company, 1265 Apparel has marketed and is selling a line of printed tee shirts in support of Jerry Kramer and daughter Alicia’s quest for his election to ‘The Hall’.

If you’re on Facebook, be sure to “like” the “Jerry Kramer for Hall of Fame” page.

This week Jerry Kramer is a member of the Official Packers Tailgate tour through Wisconsin featuring former and current players. On departure Tuesday morning Kramer was asked about the HOF snub. His response was typically classy, saying that if the call comes ‘fine’ and if it doesn’t life is still very good. He says he is over it.

It is time to right-the-wrong and enshrine Jerry Kramer in Canton.

The sooner the better.

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Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .

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  • Since ’61

    As a Packer fan I realize that I bring a bias to this issue. But having watched Jerry play for most of his career I never expected that he would not be elected into the NFL HOF. When he retired I remember thinking that he would be a sure thing to go into the HOF. I would love to know the reasons why he has not been elected. As Jeff points out very well he has the resume. Plus his versatility to be able to fill in effectively as the team’s placekicker is an indication that he was a true football player, not a specialist as so many of today’s players. Jerry played through some serious injuries and we all know that he made the most famous and decisive block in one of the 3 most important games in NFL history. The other 2 games being the 1958 NFL championship between NYG and the Baltimore Colts in overtime and SB3 NY Jets upset over the Baltimore Colts. Those 2 games plus the Ice Bowl made the NFL what it has become today. I don’t understand it and I have never understood why Kramer has not made it into the HOF. It’s unfair and unnecessary. Thanks, Since ’61

  • TedTomsin

    I can honestly say I never saw him play. I grew up remembering 1974 and forward. Yeah, the glory years!! lol
    I don’t understand why he’s not in either based on what I read. The only thing I can think of is his name Kramer. Maybe that has something to do with people not taking him as a serious candidate who knows.
    Ted

  • Savage57

    I’ve been following this and the reasons for not being inducted ring hollow.

    Too many Packers? When you have a collection of players that can do 3 in a row, 5 in 7 years, then you are going to have A LOT of players worthy of enshrinement.

    Wrote a best-selling book and that honked off a lot of PFWA members who couldn’t? Get over yourselves. It’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not the hall of resentment, grudges and dull axes.

    There were better guards in his era who are more deserving? If they were, then why weren’t they selected to the All-Decade and 50th year teams.

    It stinks, the PFWA members know it, and unless the fans take it upon themselves to create an absolute shitstorm (polite wording acknowledged) about it, it’s a wrong that will remain unrighted until it’s too late for the guy who earned it to receive his rightful place in Canton.

  • Thanks Jeff. Good Stuff.

    Although I don’t personally know any of the parties involved, I’ve heard that several members of the Senior HOF Selection committee can’t stand Kramer personally and that’s what is keeping him out. Further, these old dudes have vowed to only let Jerry in after he’s passed away.

    Hope it’s not true.

  • Big T

    The nine member panel are too busy corn holing each other. Idiots.

  • Boiseboy1

    I am a life long 49er fan who knows the Hall is worthless without Jerry. Hard to argue merits when the best is not in there. MHO

  • jd

    my wife and I had the very good fortune to meet and visit with Jerry Kramer a few months ago. It is the far and away number 1 snub by Canton! He belongs in the Hall. also, as good as the late Fuzzy was, Gale Gillingham was starrter in 1967