Af­ter long wait, Jerr y Kramer voted into Hall of Fame

Packer Plus - - FRONT PAGE - PETE DOUGHERTY GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE Aaron Na­gler of USA TODAYWis­con­sin con­trib­uted.

fi­nally made it.

In his 11th time as a fi­nal­ist, the for­mer Green Bay Pack­ers guard was voted into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame on Satur­day.

Kramer needed 80% of the vote from the 47 vot­ers who were in at­ten­dance, which meant that no more than nine could vote against him. The Hall doesn’t re­veal the vote to­tals, but Kramer hit the req­ui­site 80%.

Ac­cord­ing to Hall pro­to­col, af­ter the vote was com­pleted Satur­day af­ter­noon, David Baker, the pres­i­dent of the Hall of Fame, vis­ited the ho­tel where the nom­i­nees were stay­ing and no­ti­fied each in­di­vid­u­ally whether he made it in.

“I said that (knock on the door) is it,” Kramer said. “And the most beau­ti­ful man I’ve ever seen (Baker), the big hunk down here at the end was stand­ing there with the cam­eras and stuff be­hind him. I was over the top.

“It was some­thing I was afraid to be­lieve in, I was afraid to hope for. So I kept try­ing to keep those emo­tions out there some­where. But hey, I’m here and I’m part of the group. Thank you very much.”

The other mem­bers of the 2018 class were fel­low se­nior fi­nal­ist Robert Brazile, and con­trib­u­tors can­di­date Bobby Beathard, as well as five mod­ern-era can­di­dates: Ray Lewis, Brian Ur­lacher, Brian Dawkins, Randy Moss and Ter­rell Owens.

Kramer, 82, be­comes the 13th mem­ber of the Pack­ers’ dy­nasty in the 1960s that won five NFL cham­pi­onships in seven years to be voted into the Hall. The oth­ers are coach Vince Lom­bardi, full­back Jim Tay­lor, tackle For­rest Gregg, quar­ter­back Bart Starr, line­backer Ray Nitschke, corner­back Herb Ad­der­ley, de­fen­sive end Wil­lie Davis, cen­ter Jim Ringo, run­ning back Paul Hor­nung, safety Wil­lie Wood, de­fen­sive tackle Henry Jor­dan and line­backer Dave Robin­son.

Kramer said he had din­ner with Robin­son on Fri­day night, just as they had din­ner the night be­fore Robin­son was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. And Tay­lor was with him Satur­day.

“I miss ’em,” Kramer said of his other Hall of Fame team­mates. “But I wish they were here, I wish we had an op­por­tu­nity to be here to­gether. Bart has been sen­sa­tional in writ­ing let­ters and do­ing all sorts of things, and Hor­nung has been stick­ing up for me for 20 years.

“So many of the guys, Wil­lie D (Davis) is a great pal, and Rob­bie (i.e., Robin­son) and Wood and Ad­der­ley and so many of the guys in, and (Nitschke) was such a great pal, For­rest Gregg. We’ve had a lot of guys, 10, 12 guys in the Hall.”

Kramer also is the 25th Hall in­ductee who spent most of his ca­reer with the Pack­ers. That’s sec­ond most in league his­tory, be­hind the Chicago Bears’ 27.

It has been a long road for Kramer to get to the Hall. He was a mod­ern-era fi­nal­ist (i.e., among the fi­nal 15 can­di­dates) nine times in the 14-year pe­riod from 1974 through ’87 but never was voted in. Mod­ern-era play­ers and coaches have been re­tired any­where from five to 25 years.

Then in 1997, he was the sen- iors com­mit­tee nom­i­nee (for play­ers who have been re­tired for more than 25 years) but failed to reach the 80 per­cent thresh­old among the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee for Hall in­duc­tion. But 20 years later, he’s in. “I don’t think it can get sweeter,” Kramer said. “It’s the ul­ti­mate honor in the game, in our game. It’s the top of the heap. It’s the crown of the trail of this whole process, it’s here. If you make it here you’ve made it in pro­fes­sional foot­ball. So when­ever you’ve made it here it’s a won­der­ful mo­ment and a won­der­ful time and a won­der­ful event. ...

“I told Mr. Baker that this is it, it doesn’t get any bet­ter that this. He goes, ‘Jerry, this is just the be­gin­ning.’ So I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

Kramer is tied for fourth on the list of most times be­ing a fi­nal­ist be­fore in­duc­tion. Lynn Swann was a fi­nal­ist 14 times be­fore he was voted in, fol­lowed by Carl Eller (13) and Hor­nung (12).

Kramer joined the Pack­ers as a fourth-round draft pick out of Idaho in 1958, the year be­fore Lom­bardi took over as coach. He started all 12 games as a rookie and then when Lom­bardi took over be­came a key player as a pulling guard in the coach’s famed sweep.

Kramer achieved his great­est fame for his block on the Dal­las Cow­boys’ Jethro Pugh that helped open the way for Starr’s game-win­ning touch­down on a quar­ter­back sneak in the Ice Bowl for the 1967 NFL cham­pi­onship. It’s per­haps the most fam-

ous block in NFL his­tory.

Kramer played all of his 11 sea­sons with the Pack­ers. Along with be­ing named to the league’s 50th an­niver­sary team, he also was on the NFL’s all-decade team for the ’60s. He was named first-team all-pro five times (1960, ’62, ’63, ’66 and ’67) and went to three Pro Bowls (’62, ’63 and ’67).

Be­sides play­ing right guard, Kramer dou­bled as the Pack­ers’ kicker for parts or all of the 1962, ’63 and ’69 sea­sons.

In ’62 he made 81.8% of his field-goal at­tempts (9 of 11) and fin­ished fourth in the league in scor­ing (91 points). Then in the Pack­ers’ 16-7 win over the New York Gi­ants in the NFL Cham­pi­onship Game that sea­son, he scored 10 points (three field goals and an ex­tra point).

This was al­most surely the last time Kramer would get a shot at the Hall. Be­cause he has been re­tired from the NFL for more than 25 years, he could be­come a nom­i­nee only through the se­niors com­mit­tee, and this year was his sec­ond time mak­ing it through as the se­nior can­di­date.

He was only the fourth nom­i­nee to twice come through the com­mit­tee, and with many de­serv­ing can­di­dates in wait, there was no chance he’d get a third shot. So this was his last op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive pro foot­ball’s high­est in­di­vid­ual honor.

Kramer and the rest of the Class of 2018 will be in­ducted Aug. 4 in Can­ton, Ohio.

Pic­tured here in 1962, Jerry Kramer played guard and of­ten was the place­kicker on many of Vince Lom­bardi’s cham­pi­onship teams. PACKER PLUS FILES

Jerry Kramer car­ries head coach Vince Lom­bardi off the field af­ter the Pack­ers de­feated the Oak­land Raiders in Su­per Bowl II. Kramer made it into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame on his 11th at­tempt. AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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