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Jerry Kramer must get into Hall of Fame

On Saturday night, the National Football League will announce it’s latest Pro Football Hall of Fame class, which will officially be inducted in Canton, Ohio in August.

Over the years, there have been notable omissions. Ken Anderson is one that tops many lists, along with former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall. There have been calls about others as well, but perhaps the most perplexing of them all is Jerry Kramer, former right guard of the Green Bay Packers.

This year, finally, Kramer is a finalist once more for the Hall of Fame, the first time he’s been in this position since the 1980s. The seven-time NFL champion (including the first two Super Bowls) is a finalist this time through the senior committee, which has both he and Robert Brazile on the ballot. Both should get in if we’re strictly talking about merits, but with all due respect to the former Houston Oilers linebacker, Kramer is the much more convincing case.

After being selected by the Packers in the fourth round of the 1958 draft, Kramer became a star under head coach Vince Lombardi. He blossomed into a five-time First-Team All-Pro and was the dominant guard of his era. In fact, Kramer was so great that he was the only guard on the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team, put together in 1969.

Incredibly, Kramer is the only player from that team yet to be enshrined with a bust in Canton.

It’s impossible to tell the story of the NFL without the ’60s Packers. If you discuss them, Kramer has to come up. The Packer sweep might be the most iconic play in league history, and Kramer was at the forefront at it, pulling around to clear the way for Paul Hornung or Jim Taylor. In the Ice Bowl of 1967, Kramer was the one who wedged Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jethro Pugh out of the way, allowing Bart Starr to sneak over the goal line for a third straight league title.

Simply put, Kramer is the biggest omission to the Hall of Fame, and a wrong that has a chance to be righted on Saturday at the NFL Honors. Any argument against him inclusion is bunk, considering he was once viewed as the greatest player of his position over the NFL’s first 50 years, and has a legacy that endures to this day despite retiring 50 years ago.

At 82 years old, who knows how much time Kramer has left to see this day he so richly deserved. Hopefully, the Montana native finally gets his due and has a gold jacket draped over his broad shoulders come this summer.

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