Accorsi on Jerry Kramer going into Hall: “It’s time for him”


Jerry Kramer is the only member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that’s puzzling … because it’s the Hall’s  voters who chose the 50th anniversary team. Yet, for some reason, they’ve kept him out of Canton for over four decades.

That doesn’t mean Kramer hasn’t had chances. He has. Ten times he’s been a finalist, and ten times his candidacy was kicked backed by the Hall’s board of selectors.

But now, at the age of 81 (he turns 82 Tuesday) and 49 years after his retirement, Jerry Kramer — former star guard of the Green Bay Packers and author of the best-selling book, “Instant Replay” — is back for his 11th … and presumably … last run at the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of two senior candidates for the Class of 2018 (Robert Brazile is the other).

There’s a feeling among today’s voters that Kramer belongs and that this is the time to induct him. After all, he was last a finalist (as a senior candidate) in 1997, and the board has gone through a near complete turnover since then.

So that leads to the question: With 21 years passing and a new board, can Jerry Kramer’s candidacy … or should it … be an easy sell now?

“I think it should,” said former GM Ernie Accorsi on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “(Hall-of-Fame coach) John Madden and I have talked about him in the last couple of years, and I think he suffered from the book. I don’t mean that the book itself hurt him. That book was a great book; it was kind of a trailblazer book (that) broke new ground.

“And because it became so famous and so well known … and we all know guards don’t get a lot of publicity now, let alone 20 or 30 years ago where they got none … I think people started to think he was overrated. I think what happened is that people talked so much about him being overrated he ended up being underrated.”

That’s possible. Heck, any explanation at this point is possible. Because it defies reason to keep someone with Kramer’s resume out of Canton.

He was a six-time All-Pro, including five years as a first-teamer. He was a five-time NFL champ and two-time Super Bowl champ. He was first-team all-decade and not only led coach Vince Lombardi’s signature Power Sweep; he threw what may be the most famous block in NFL history in the 1967 playoffs, when quarterback Bart Starr scored the winning touchdown over him in the NFL championship game — a.k.a., the Ice Bowl.

“I think he was an absolute Hall-of-Fame player,” said Accorsi. “I had dinner with him about two years ago, and he told me this story … and we’ve all heard these stories … that Lombardi was really on him in the beginning. I mean picking on him and singling him out. And he said, ‘I was either ready to hit him or quit. And I knew if I hit him that would be the end of my career.’

“And he said just at the time when he thought that he (Lombardi) obviously saw that (Kramer) was ready to crack, he came up to him and said, ‘I treat you like this because you’re going to be the best guard in this league.’ And he had one of the most famous blocks in history.”

So why have voters waited so long to recognize him? That’s difficult to explain. There have been allegations of “Packer Fatigue,” with voters moving on after inducting 12 Packers from the 1960s (including coach Vince Lombardi), including five members of the team’s offense. Maybe. Then there’s a 2012 Sports Illustrated article where Hall-of-Fame quarterback Bart Starr told Hall-of-Fame voter Peter King he thought another offensive lineman from the great Packers’ teams deserved to be enshrined.

It wasn’t Kramer. It was former tackle Bob Skoronski.

Whatever the reason, it’s been a long and agonizing wait for a deserving candidate. And, maybe, just maybe, it’s about to end. In fact, last October Starr’s wife sent a letter to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on behalf of her husband, in which he makes “a strong recommendation” for Kramer’s induction.

“It’s got to be a real pain (to have waited so long), ” Accorsi said. “There’s no honor in sports like being elected to the Hall of Fame, especially for players with all that pride and as good as they were. And you know he was a great player, that goes without saying.

“He sees guys go in that he played against … and played with … and I’m sure he feels (like): ‘I’m as good as this guy. Why can’t I get in?’ And it’s got to be so painful because, in a sense, for these guys who, basically, were stars of their teams all through their childhood and college years, it’s a form of rejection.

“It is really a rejection, and it’s got to really hurt them. Sure, they’re not going to say much about it. There’s too much pride, and they’re not going to whine about it. But it’s got to be very, very hurtful. I just think it’s time for him. I really do. But I do think he suffered a bit for being so acclaimed for that book .

“It’s a little bit like (Hall-of-Fame linebacker) Sam Huff. Sam Huff was called ‘overrated’ so much. It started with ‘The Violent World of Sam Huff’ documentary, which was one of the first specials. And then, all of sudden, people who thought he was overlooked (thought) he was pretty darned good. And I think Jerry is kind of like that. I hope he gets in. I really do.”

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6 Comments

  1. January 22, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Clark,

    I absolutely love the Talk of Fame show that you, Rick and Ron do. I also know that all three of you are big supporters of Jerry Kramer.

    In terms of the Peter King article from 2012, please see this recent story that I published.

    https://greenbaybobfox.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/the-bart-starr-endorsement-letter-for-jerry-kramer/

    All the best!

    Bob Fox

    • January 22, 2018
      Reply

      Bob, thanks for sending this. Added his endorsement to the story. Appreciate you sending it along.

      • January 22, 2018
        Reply

        Clark, thank you for your support!

  2. Sam Goldenberg
    January 22, 2018
    Reply

    Clark

    I have such high hopes that Jerry Kramer finally makes the Hall of Fame. We all know he is so deserving.

    It has been such a long process for Kramer fans to even get to this point. Yourself, Rick and Ron have been so great in keeping his credentials current with your outstanding forum. From all Jerry Kramer fans thanks again.

    Here’s hoping this time is the charm.!!!!!🤞

    • January 22, 2018
      Reply

      Can’t believe it won’t happen. Think everyone in that room realizes it’s way past time to put him in. Thanks for the note, Sam.

  3. January 22, 2018
    Reply

    Jerry Kramer was a hero that guided many a small boy. He is and was one of the best people to ever represent the NFL in many ways. Jerry Kramer had a huge impact on my life. He is the only reason I currently have income because at age 56, I find myself taking writing jobs to survive as my career has passed me by in favor of younger, “cheaper” labor as well as H1B VISA workers. However, the resolve that Jerry Kramer put into me is what keeps me going.
    Yesterday, there was a young man with similar resolve playing with all his heart to get into the Super Bowl. Blake Bortles’s grandfather started our Pop Warner program in our small town of Phoenix, NY. I used to compete with Blake’s father, Robbie Bortles for the fullback spot at age 13. By age 18, Robbie was a lot taller and larger. My career was over HOWEVER my life was just beginning to accelerate thanks to the influence of Jerry Kramer.
    I scored 4 points total in my entire football career. Two of those points were the difference that gave the Pop Warner program its first ever win when I caught the opposing QB for a safety. The other two were extra points I kicked just like my hero, Jerry Kramer. I was also a starting guard my senior year although I was the second lightest guy on the team. It took an awful lot of heart to win that position. My drive and heart came from reading Jerry’s books.
    The push for the Hall of Fame won’t be over regardless of the outcome for Mr. Kramer. There might be a lull in the effort if Mr. Kramer gets in however there will be a second effort to get Jerry’s daughter Alicia in as an NFL fan. If they don’t have that category, perhaps we will just have to create it. Nothing is impossible as taught to me by Jerry Kramer and his portrayal of the teachings of Vince Lombardi.
    Beyond football, I took on the world getting a Master’s Degree in Engineering at a time when the program was weighted heavily with Chinese nationals. In the late 1980’s the only Chinese to come to America had to be absolutely brilliant. Back then, a small percentage of Chinese went to high school, and even smaller percentage went to college. A smaller percentage of those went to graduate school. The percentage of those that made it to the US had to be extremely intelligent. Although I possessed intelligence, it was the drive instilled in my by Vince Lombardi through Jerry Kramer. Without them, I never would have achieved the success of competing with brilliant people. I am forever grateful,

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