Back in 1969, as part of the NFL’s 50th anniversary celebration, the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee identified the 15 players that were the very best at their positions in the first five decades of professional football.
Johnny Unitas was named the greatest quarterback, Jim Brown the greatest fullback and Gale Sayers the greatest halfback. Gino Marchetti was identified as the greatest defensive end, Night Train Lane the greatest cornerback and Lou Groza the greatest kicker.
Of the 15 players identified as the best at their positions in the sport’s first 50 years, 14 of them have already been enshrined in Canton. The only one still waiting on a bust is guard Jerry Kramer – and listeners and readers at the Talk of Fame Network believe that’s an oversight that needs to be corrected.
There will be two senior candidates nominated this month for the Class of 2018. In our poll last week, we asked our followers to vote on the most deserving candidate and offered up eight worthy options. Kramer won in a landslide, receiving 86 percent of the vote. Former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell was a very distant second with just six percent support.
The three Talk of Fame Network hosts – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – were in agreement on Kramer.
“How can you be the only guard on the 50th anniversary team and not be in Canton?” asked Judge. “You can't. It's time to correct an error that must be corrected.”
Kramer was a fourth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1958 and went on to play 11 seasons, helping the Packers win five championships. Kramer made the block that allowed the Packers to score the winning touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the closing seconds of the Ice Bowl, which sent Green Bay to the second Super Bowl. He also was an usher in the Packer power sweep, the signature play of the Vince Lombardi championship era.
Kramer also doubled as the team’s placekicker in 1962 and ’63, scoring 177 points. He kicked three field goals and an extra point in the 16-7 victory over the New York Giants in the 1962 NFL championship game.
Kramer has been a Hall-of-Fame finalist 10 times, including once previously as a senior. Russell was a seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Steelers who started on two Super Bowl champions. He has been eligible for 36 years but has never been discussed as a finalist.