Aaron Nagler speaks with Pro Football Hall of Fame voter Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette about what Saturday's process was like during debate on former Green Bay Packers guard Jerry Kramer.
There were times along the way that Jerry Kramer's supporters probably lost hope that this day would ever become a reality.
Now, however, the wait is over. And you could sense decades of frustration being calmed as anxiety gave way to joy late Saturday afternoon when the news spread that the former Green Bay Packers guard finally had been selected for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A few of Kramer’s former teammates paid their respects after the news became public, including linebacker Dave Robinson.
“In the old days when the quarterbacks called their own plays, since most of them were right-handed, they called most of the plays to the right," Robinson said in a statement released by the Packers. "So the defense would put their best men on that half of the field. Therefore, Jerry Kramer, as a right guard, played against the best defensive tackle every week. He still made All-Pro five times. Jerry was a phenomenal guard.
"People like to talk about that one block during the Ice Bowl, but he was an all-around player. He’s the man I credit with winning the world championship in 1962, since he had to fill in as kicker. He did things players today can’t and won’t do. He played against the best that our opponents had to offer.
"Jerry had that Lombardi-like feeling: you never quit," Robinson said. "No task was too big. No matter who he was playing against or how big he was, Jerry knew that if he did what he had to do, the way he was supposed to do it, he would win. When the going got tough, you knew that Jerry would give his all. He’s well deserving of this honor. We’ve got a spot that’s been waiting a long time for him in the Hall of Fame. I wish I could be the first man to congratulate him.”
Former Packers running back Paul Hornung also chimed in via the team, saying, “Congratulations to Jerry. I couldn’t be happier for him. If anybody ever deserved it, it is him. He is well deserving. He was a great teammate and a great leader. Our favorite play was the power sweep, and he led that play so well.”
Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy praised Kramer's patience and leadership.
“On behalf of the entire Green Bay Packers organization," Murphy said in a statement, “I want to congratulate Jerry on this well-deserved honor. I’m so happy for Jerry. His patience has been rewarded, as he will finally be going into the Hall of Fame after being a finalist 11 times.
"He was a key part of the offenses on the great Lombardi teams, as well as an outstanding leader. He’s remained actively involved with the Packers over the years and is beloved by our fans.”
Former Denver Broncos offensive lineman and Super Bowl champion Mark Schlereth paid tribute not only to Kramer, but to his daughter Alicia, who had spearheaded the effort to get her father’s candidacy in front of the selection committee one more time.
“Congrats to Idaho football and Packers legend Jerry Kramer on his induction to the HOF.” Schlereth wrote on Twitter. “So proud to call him a friend and mentor and proud of Alicia Kramer for your years of tireless work.”
Speaking of Kramer’s daughter, she let fans know that Robinson was in Minneapolis to support his former teammate.
“Wanna know something good and positive,” wrote Alicia Kramer, “Dave Robinson came to spend time with dad before the vote, like dad did for Dave before his big vote...love, loyalty, and respect. Such a thing to witness. Teammates for life.”
Former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, who was a Hall of Fame semifinalist, could hardly contain his excitement, writing “My heart is LEAPING right now!!! For JERRY KRAMER!!!! i am so happy and proud of him.”
Butler’s teammate Antonio Freeman kept things simple, writing, “Congratulations, Jerry Kramer. #GoPackGo #ProFootballHOF”
Current Packers got in on the action as well, with offensive tackle David Bakhtiari tweeting out “Jerry Kramer!!! Big congrats. #NFLHOF #olinematterstoo”
One longtime scribe paid tribute by referencing Kramer’s famous Ice Bowl block. Mike Klis wrote, “Happiest for Packer guard Jerry Kramer who threw the most famous block in NFL history. Long overdue election to Hall of Fame.”
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker joined in the congratulatory chorus, writing, “Congratulations to Packers great Jerry Kramer for being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame!!!”
Perhaps the greatest reaction of all, however, can be seen in this video sent out by the Pro Football Hall of Fame showing the moment Kramer got the fateful knock on the door.
A short history highlighting the Green Bay Packers players and personnel enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Jan. 31, 2018)