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Kramers roll into Canton with NFL Royalty

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Editors Note: Daniel Kramer is Jerry’s Kramer’s son and has a B.A. in Journalism and an MFA in Photojournalism.

By Daniel Kramer
Exclusive to the Press Times

My dad, Jerry Kramer, played right guard for the Green Bay Packers from 1958 to 1968.

During that span, Vince Lombardi’s Packers won five National Football League Championships in seven years including three in a row.

Within the 1967 NFL Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, known around the globe because the Ice Bowl, my dad threw what would turn into probably the most famous block in NFL history which allowed Bart Starr to attain and the Packers to advance to Super Bowl II.

In 1969, my dad was chosen by Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors to the all-time NFL team chosen to commemorate the league’s fiftieth anniversary season.

In other words, the Hall of Fame voters chosen my dad as the best player at his position in the primary 50 years of the NFL.

Dad’s first yr of eligibility for the Hall of Fame was 1974 and he was a finalist that yr.

He was also a finalist in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1987 and a Senior Candidate in 1997.

I used to be in Recent Orleans with dad on the set of ESPN’s The Sports Reporters when Dick Schaap received the news that he had once more been omitted.

Prior to that rejection, being nominated as a Senior had been considered a shoo-in for induction.
Dad had brought a big a part of his family to witness the occasion, and his friends had planned a giant party.

Schaap even had t-shirts made up.

As Vince Lombardi once said, “What the hell is occurring on the market?!”

Creator Daniel Kramer, back, listens in as Chris “Boomer” Berman, host of ESPN’s SportsCenter, and former Raider-turned Fox sports analyst Howie Long chat along with his dad, Jerry Kramer at a luncheon in Canton, OH. Suzanne Jordan Photo

A lost generation

• Eleven years later, in 2008, NFL.com selected my dad because the No 1 player not within the Hall of Fame.
• In 2010, Steve Sabol called Jerry Kramer the Best Player not within the Hall of Fame.

• In 2013, dad was chosen by Sports Illustrated because the Best Guard Not within the Hall of Fame (one in all the runners up was Dick Stanfel who was inducted in 2016).

• In 2014, The Sporting News listed Jerry Kramer because the ninth best Green Bay Packer of all time and added: “Easily probably the most egregious omission within the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and arguably in any sports’ hall of fame…”

• In 2016, USA Today chosen Jerry Kramer because the starting Right Guard for the All fiftieth Super Bowl Team.

• Dad had also been chosen by John Madden in 1991 because the starting Right Guard for the All twenty fifth Super Bowl Team.

Finally, in 2018, after a multi-year social-media effort and on the age of 82, dad was finally inducted 45 years after he became eligible.

2022 NFL Hall of Fame inductee LeRoy Butler poses with fellow gold jacket club members Jerry Kramer and Dave Robinson during ceremonies held earlier this month on the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. Daniel Kramer Photo

I mention all of this to attempt to convey to the reader the emotional impact of our long weekend in Canton for LeRoy Butler’s enshrinement ceremoy with the Class of 2022.

It’s not likely something that may be conveyed with words.

It’s one in all those things that may stick with me for the remainder of my life.

I’m so grateful that dad was finally enshrined, but I’m also sad that he missed all those years of reuniting with Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke, Willie Wood, Herb Adderley and even competitors who later became friends like Merlin Olsen.

Dad missed his entire generation.

Father and son road trip
So this yr, as LeRoy Butler was being enshrined, I told dad I desired to go to Canton with him. We met in Green Bay on Thursday, Aug.4 and flew to Canton on a personal jet that very same day.

Daniel Kramer, son of legendary Packers right guard Jerry Kramer.

Friday morning dad passed on the NFL Legends Health Advantages breakfast and the annual Gold Jacket group photo in front of the Hall of Fame in order that he could attend the National Child ID meet-and-greet event.

Dad has been involved with this charitable project for about seven years and is one in all its leading spokespersons.

The Ray Nitschke Luncheon
At 11:30, dad attended the Ray Nitschke Luncheon.

I used to be not allowed to remain within the room for this event.

I wheeled dad into the room, spied James Lofton and pushed dad right into a spot next to him and went outside to attend.

Lawrence Taylor was one in all the primary former players to go away the room, and I asked him if he’d sign a football I had delivered to collect signatures for the weekend.

He signed it after which I saw Marcus Allen emerge from the room and got a selfie and an autograph.
Then Tony Dorsett got here out and was also kind enough to sign my ball.

Tony Dorsett, Lawrence Taylor and Marcus Allen were among the many NFL Hall of Famers to sign Kramer’s football. Daniel Kramer Photo

Then I spied Ron Wolf, Gilbert Brown and Santana Dotson at one end of the lobby and said hello.
Finally, after about two and a half hours, the players began emerging from the luncheon.

I went in to get dad, and as we got here out, he was immediately asked to sign memorabilia for charity.
When that was done, we bumped into Charles Woodson, who graciously signed my ball and posed for an image.

After an hour of downtime, it was time to prepare for the Gold Jacket Ceremony Dinner.

As I wheeled dad into the room, we saw Dave Robinson, his son Dave Robinson Jr. and Junior’s daughter Michelle.

A couple of minutes later, Suzanne Jordan, daughter of Hall of Famer Henry Jordan, joined us for dinner.
The Jordan’s lived across the road from us in Green Bay as we were growing up.

Then ESPN’s Chris Berman got here into the room and sat right down to join us.

Then Toni Adderley, daughter of Herb Adderley, stopped by to say hi and pose for a bunch picture.
After dinner was finished, we got pics with “Mean” Joe Green and Howie Long.

Backstage on the Gold Jacket Ceremony
Our next stop was the waiting room backstage on the Gold Jacket Ceremony on the Canton Civic Center.

Gobsmacked, I toured the room shooting slightly video on my phone of this gaggle of greatness.

Steve Young stopped by for an image, then it was time to wheel dad into his spot within the Gold Jacket Gauntlet.

After each returning Hall of Famer was announced, Wealthy Eisen introduced the brand new class.
I used to be standing right next to LeRoy when he got here into the sector.

As soon as the brand new class was introduced, the Gold Jacket Gauntlet disbursed, and I went to get dad.
John Randle put a forearm in my chest as he thought I used to be just an over-exuberant fan (which I’m!), but after I quickly told him I used to be getting my dad he apologized and let me through.

Post-ceremony party
Now we headed back to the hotel and to the post ceremony party.

I spied Bill Cowher and asked him to return over and say hello to my dad.

After that it was Jerry Rice, Steve Hutchinson after which Jim Kelley.

After joining Franco Harris’ conga line across the room, it was time to go back to our room. Wow, what a day!

Saturday ceremonies
Saturday morning dad and I shared a ride with Steve Young to the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for the enshrinement ceremonies.

As we waited within the Green Room, Recent England Patriots owner Robert Kraft stopped to go to and his son, Jonathan, mentioned that his dad had bought dad’s book Easy Reply for him when he was a child and he had enjoyed it immensely and still had it.

I then wheeled dad onto the stage and ducked back into the green room for some air-con and refreshments.

Soon more guys were coming from onstage and grabbing some food or something to drink.
There’s Mel Blount in his cowboy hat.

There’s Michael Irvin telling a story about Darrell Green.

I fixed dad a brat and a few chips and brought it out to him.

It was really beginning to get uncomfortably hot on stage.

No wonder the Hall of Famers weren’t wearing their Gold Jackets.

Thankfully many of the speeches were short, aside from Dick Vermeil’s, during which I used to be given the green light to go onstage and hand dad an ice-soaked towel.

He winced and asked me if our escape route was ready (in case you didn’t know, my dad is funny)!
It took about 10 minutes to search out our escape guide, after which we made our way out of the stadium and to the transportation area where we caught a ride back to the hotel.

National Child ID Man of the 12 months
We had about an hour of downtime after which we were off to the National Child ID Jerry Kramer Man of the 12 months Award Banquet.

Currently there are 38 states that take part in this program, and there have been attorneys general from lots of those states on the banquet.

Did you already know that a toddler goes missing within the U.S. every 40 seconds?

That is an effort to combat that problem, and I’m happy with my dad for leading the charge.
Dad has worked with Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on the project, and consequently, every child in Wisconsin has an ID kit.

Butler’s enshrinement party
The ultimate stop of the weekend was LeRoy Butler’s enshrinement party hosted by the Green Bay Packers at the very same place where they hosted dad’s enshrinement party in 2018.

It was great to see Dave Robinson, Antonio Freeman, Santana Dotson, Gilbert Brown, James Lofton, Andre Rison, Charles Woodson and Ed Reed show as much as support LeRoy.

After just a few hours and plenty of photos, it was time to pack it in.

Creator Daniel Kramer, left, along with his dad Jerry Kramer and fellow Packers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Woodson. Contributed Photo.

Dad and Dave Robinson clinked their glasses, looked one another in the attention and said, “I hope to see you again.”

Wow, what a poignant moment.

And what an incredible trip.

Thanks dad, I really like you.

Daniel Kramer’s photographs have appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide for the past 30 years, and his work is within the everlasting collection of various museums. In 2016, he published Return To Glory, a coffee-table photography book of the 1995-96 Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl winning season.

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