You heard me. I had something written and ready to upload for your afternoon/evening Packers reading pleasure, but it’s going to have to wait. I’m mad. I need to rant. I need to remind everyone that the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a bit of a farce. Another year the Senior candidates have been announced, and it’s another year that former Packers’ guard Jerry Kramer has essentially been told to pound sand.
Quarterback Ken Stabler and guard Dick Stanfel became the two newest candidates for consideration. Both were great players that are deserving of such an honor. Personally I’m quite thrilled that Snake is finally getting his nod.
Both died this past year. Now this may sound heartless, but deceased candidates are safe bets. Not that I believe in conspiracy theories, but deceased candidates are easy shields too. After all, who is going to question the intentions to right a wrong or honor a player give a final send off to their legacy blah blah blah or whatever contrived narrative the Hall of Fame will put forward in the next year when the yellow blazers are handed out next August and a dead man’s bust evokes memories of the Glory Days. I mean, who is actually going to criticize a posthumous nomination to the Hall of Fame? It sure seems an easier route than addressing glaring omissions of slighted players standing right in front of them. In situations like this, nostalgia trumps accomplishments.
And it’s not as though Stanfel is a complete slouch. But to nominate him over Kramer is a slap in the face (rival conference teams notwithstanding.) The Hall would like to remind us of Stanfel’s accomplishments: two championship rings while with the Lions (1952 and 1953 respectively), two Pro Bowl nods (1953 and 1955), and the NFL honor of 1950’s All Decade Team. All in all, a pretty solid resume for a potential Hall of Famer.
But let’s put this in perspective with a fellow guard from that era, Jerry Kramer.
Kramer’s accolades outstrip Stanfel’s by leaps and bounds. Three-time Pro Bowl guard, five time world champion (including Super Bowl 1 an Super Bowl 2), member of the NFL’s 1960’s All Decade Team, member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team, and a member of the Super Bowl Anniversary Team.
By the way, take a wild guess which is the only member of that 50th Anniversary All Time Team that does not have a bust in Canton?
So why exactly did Stanfel get the nod and Kramer did not?
If you believe Sports Illustrated Peter King who has been championing the premise, it’s because Kramer has already previously nominated and has been rejected, so the door is shut for Kramer. End of discussion.
So how does Stanfel’s rejection in 2012 factor into that logic? Because should it matter if you’ve been rejected once or eleven times? The selection committee told you go to away. With King’s train of thought, a rejection is a hard stop with no further chance for consideration.
Or is this retribution for Kramer’s book Instant Replay which upended the private inner sanctum of the NFL locker room? Really, we’re going to blackball someone over a pretty tame in comparison to today’s standards expose?
Really, is the Hall and its selection committee that petty, clutching its collective pearls because Kramer cast a tarnish to The Shield.
Yet they supposedly have their undies in a proverbial twist, but have no problems welcoming someone into Canton who was busted for cocaine possession in a complete hookers and blow (with sex toys) cliche, and was suspended for five games in 1996.
And somehow that isn’t a tarnish to The Shield?
If you want to start looking at the skeletons the Hall of Fame has hidden among the bronze busts, chances are tame locker room expose is the least of the offenses. Yet is it what is keeping Kramer excluded from football’s greatest fraternity?
Jerry Kramer will be 80 this winter. Each snub is one year closer to him becoming a posthumous candidate. Each year, there are fewer and fewer from those Lombardi era teammates still with us. And don’t even get me started on the “There’s already enough Lombardi era Packers in Canton” argument. It is hollow. It is a stupid argument. Didn’t realize the Pro Football Hall of Fame dealt in quotas.
There’s a good chance Kramer could be another Stanfel or a Stabler. After all, posthumous nominations are an easy out. No fuss, no muss. And if Junior Seau’s induction is any indication is any indication, less podium/speech time. It’s a fast track and warm fuzzy. Bronze bust, just add water.
But what point is there to a posthumous award. After all, Jerry Kramer wouldn’t be around to enjoy it, and by then it would be just a hollow award to his family who has championed his cause for so long. Meanwhile Kramer possesses the poise and grace that the Hall wants to ignore. While we are all gnashing our teeth at what has become an annual source of frustration, Kramer has already congratulated Stabler and Stanfel.
We aren’t talking about a participation trophy for a mediocre guard. Kramer is one of the historic greats. Maybe one year, the Hall will pull its head out of its rear and realize that. Until then, it’s a damn shame that it keeps passing over Jerry Kramer.