Jerry Kramer awaits Hall of Fame decision

Jeff Alexander and Jerry Kramer
Jeff Alexander interviews Jerry Kramer (right) on Feb. 1, 2018, at an event ahead of Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis (WBAY photo)

MINNEAPOLIS (WBAY) - Less than 24 hours from the time of this writing, Packers great Jerry Kramer will know if he is finally a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

As fans of the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots converge on downtown Minneapolis and celebrate their moment in the spotlight, Lombardi-era legend Jerry Kramer is hoping to celebrate the ultimate honor that has alluded him for more than 40 years.

Kramer is trying hard not to think about how Saturday will unfold, but it's not very easy.

"I don't think about it more than 10,000 times a day," he jokes. "I'm up, I'm down, I'm in, I'm out, I'm over, I'm under, so I'm trying not to think about it, I'm trying to just enjoy the moment."

Kramer's career as a famed right guard for the Green Bay Packers includes five NFL Championships and five 1st-Team All Pro selections.

In 1974, when he first became a finalist, he was also a best-selling author.

"So that was a huge thrill, and then I get a notice I made the all-time 50 year team so I'm thinking wow, maybe I ought to go to Hollywood and win me one of those Academy Awards, I'm really special, and so I kind of thought I was going to go in, and when it didn't happen I'm going, 'How come?'"

A question he would ask year after year, all the way up to 1997, when as a first-time senior finalist many told Kramer he was a sure thing.

"In fact, Art Daley from the (Green Bay) Press-Gazette said, 'Jerry, I don't know what I did but I messed up.' He said, 'It wasn't any tougher than a 12-inch putt on the 18th hole, and I missed it,' so I guess it was pretty close, think that's what he meant, but close doesn't count, especially in this game."

Now, 20 years later, this could be Kramer's last crack at the Hall of Fame -- and he won't be alone when he learns his fate.

Alicia Kramer, Jerry's daughter, said, "The family is here and more is coming in, and we're just really excited for Dad. I'm on the verge of tears talking about it, just because it means, not just so much to Dad but we all really want it for him."

The Hall of Fame has asked Kramer to be in his hotel room Saturday between 3 and 4 p.m.

"Hopefully Mr. Baker knocks on the door and invites me to the Hall of Fame," Jerry said, "and if he doesn't knock on the door, the janitor is going to knock on the door and say, 'Get your stuff out of here'" -- he laughs -- "'Go on home.'"

Kramer needs 80 percent of the vote to earn a gold jacket.

At 82 now, and the last of the Lombardi legends without a bronze bust, it would mean more than ever.

"I've had so many wonderful moments, and this is the ultimate moment in pro football. This is the peak. This is the top. This is as good as it gets. You can't do any better than this, and if I'm in that class, we'll be remembered for a long, long time."

And the long, long wait is almost over.

"I'm gonna shoot that janitor if he shows up," he laughs again.

A great player, an even better man. Our fingers are crossed for Jerry Kramer. Action 2 News will be here and have his reaction Saturday.

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