Jerry Kramer will receive his gold jacket and bust during the first weekend of August when the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducts its Class of 2018.
Kramer was selected the greatest guard in the NFL’s first half century and was also named to the 1960s all-decade team. He will become the 26th member of the Green Bay Packers enshrined, including the 12th player from the Lombardi Packers. Kramer also is the 20th guard to gain enshrinement for his blocking. He was elected as a senior candidate in his 45th year of eligibility.
Here are five of the top moments of Kramer’s career:
Block in the Ice Bowl. Kramer is credited with making the most memorable block in NFL history. It came in the 1967 NFL championship game against the Dallas Cowboys. Game time temperatures were a minus-15 in Green Bay with a wind chill of a minus-48 – conditions that minimized offense in the game. The Packers trailed 17-14 with 4:50 remaining when they got the ball a final time at their own 32. Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr drove the Pack 67 yards to the Dallas 1, where Green Bay faced a third-and goal with 15 seconds left and no timeouts. Starr ran a quarterback sneak behind the block of Kramer on Dallas tackle Jethro Pugh for the winning touchdown. Kramer found a friend that snap on the frozen turf. “My left foot found a golf club-like divot that was maybe an inch deep,” Kramer recalled. “A couple of guys slipped and fell on that particular play and I very well could have slipped and ended up on my belly, too. Of course then there’s no score and it’s just a mess.” That touchdown – and that block — returned the Packers to their second Super Bowl.
Giving the boot to the Giants. An injury to Hall-of-Famer Paul Hornung that season forced Kramer to handle Green Bay’s placekicking chores in 1962 in addition to his blocking assignments on the offensive line. He kicked nine field goals and 38 extra points that season but the 1962 NFL championship game in New York against the Giants proved to be quite a challenge. Winds of 40 miles per hour made all kicks from all ranges an adventure. Still, Kramer kicked field goals of 26, 29 and 30 yards plus an extra point in a 16-7 Green Bay victory. Despite personally outscoring the Giants and providing blocks in a 150-yard rushing day by the Packers, Kramer was passed over for the game MVP honors and its Corvette prize in favor of Hall of Fame middle linebacker Ray Nitschke. “That’s the life of a lineman,” Kramer said. “The team voted me the game ball and the writers voted Nitschke the Corvette. That’s the difference between playing guard and playing middle linebacker.”
Defending the NFL’s honor. The Packers edged the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL title game to earn the right to play the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl. The Packers were a two-touchdown favorite over the upstart Chiefs and Kramer felt confident throughout that his team would crush the AFL champs. But Lombardi had been fielding calls from league officials, team owners and fellow head coaches during the week leading up to the game. “I wasn’t nervous until I saw how Coach Lombardi was,” Kramer said. “Then that made me nervous. It was not just for the Green Bay Packers or the NFL. It was for the owners of the NFL, the long-term guys who had been there forever, the heroes of Coach Lombardi to a certain extent. He had about as much pressure on him for a game as he ever had for any game I believe.” The Packers sprinted from a 14-10 halftime lead to a 35-10 victory, rushing for 130 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries against the vaunted Kansas City defensive front that featured future Hall of Famers Buck Buchanan and Bobby Bell.
Bludgeoning the Browns. The Packer power sweep was the signature play of the Lombardi era. Green Bay would pull both guards, Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston, to lead either Hall-of-Fame running backs Paul Hornung or Jim Taylor around end. Lombardi unleashed the power sweep in all of its majesty in a 1961 game at Cleveland against the Browns. The Packers rushed 35 times for 216 yards and a franchise-record six touchdowns in a 49-17 victory. Taylor rushed 21 times for 158 yards and four of those scores. The following season, the power sweep was even better in a game at Philadelphia against the Eagles. The Packers rushed 55 times for 294 yards and another six TDs in a 49-0 victory. Again, it was Taylor behind the blocks of Kramer and Thurston. He rushed 25 times for 141 yards and four scores.
Dialing long distance. With the NFL suspension of Hornung for the 1963 season because of gambling, Kramer assumed Green Bay’s placekicking chores and led the Packers in scoring with 91 points. Before the era of soccer-style kickers, Kramer approached the football straight on. In his career filling in for Hornung, Kramer kicked 29 field goals and 90 extra points for 177 points, which makes him the highest scoring guard in pro football history. He kicked a career-long 46-yard field goal at windy Memorial Stadium in Baltimore in a 1963 game against the Colts. His kick early in the second quarter tied the game at 3-3 and sent the Packers on their way to a 34-10 victory.