Earlier this week, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced this year’s two senior nominees.
They are linebackers Les Richter of the Los Angeles Rams and Chris Hanburger of the Washington Redskins. The nominees are selected by the Seniors Committee, which gives former players who may have been overlooked in the past a chance to get into the HOF. Those players must be retired at least 25 years.
That brings me to Green Bay Packers guard Jerry Kramer, who is not in the Hall of Fame.
Yes, you read that right. Personally, and I may be an idiot, but I had always just assumed Kramer was enshrined in Canton.
Kramer’s resume reads something like this.
He played for 11 seasons (1958-68) and was named All-Pro five times. Kramer was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1960s and the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team.
Every other member of the 50th Anniversary Team is in Canton.
During Kramer’s tenure, the Packers made the playoffs eight times, won three NFL Championships and two Super Bowls.
Kramer also helped Jim Taylor rack up five straight 1,000-yard seasons and lead perhaps the most vaunted running play in history — the Packers power sweep. Overall, the Packers rushed for 21,637 yards during his playing career, which is the second-highest total in the NFL during that period.
So, what the hell, right?
Kevin Seifert has floated the theory that Kramer isn’t in the Hall of Fame because he played guard.
Guard isn’t usually a highly valued position. In the history of the game, only 11 players who were primarily guards have made the Hall of Fame.
Voters could also be split on the source of the Packers’ running success, from Vince Lombardi’s coaching to the individual talents of Taylor and running back Paul Hornung.
That’s all well and good, but I think Kramer’s career speaks for itself, and I’m not alone.
NFL Films’ Steve Sabol — a guy who’s seen more than his share of NFL football — calls Kramer the best player not in the Hall of Fame.
He was the lead boulder in the avalanche that was the Packer Power Sweep. In the 1962 Championship game in Yankee Stadium, he kicked three field goals through the bitter wind to provide the winning margin over the Giants, 16-7. In the Ice Bowl, he became the most famous right guard in history with his goal-line block on Jethro Pugh; so celebrated that some people think the deodorant was named for him. He endured 23 operations. He was All-Pro five times. And finally, when the NFL celebrated its 50th anniversary, the Hall of Fame selected its All-Time Team and Jerry Kramer was the guard. He was a striver, a man of straight ahead will and determination who epitomized the essence of Vince Lombardi’s Packers.
I’m not sure what Kramer did to warrant such blatant ignorance from the Hall of Fame nominating committee, but the situation is getting a little ridiculous.
We’re talking about one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play the game. We’re talking about one of the greatest Green Bay Packers ever — a five-time champion.
Hopefully, next year, the committee will pull their heads out of their asses and put Kramer were he belongs — among the all-time greats.