GREEN BAY — Jerry Kramer played football during a time when Twitter didn’t exist. He was a five-time All-Pro and won five championships long before Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook were born.
But it could be efforts made through social media outlets that help the former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman get elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If it happens, he will have his daughter to thank.
It began innocently enough for Alicia Kramer. She never thought the campaign she started for her father would get so big.
Social media can be funny that way. Once an idea takes off, an entire world is out there to embrace it. When it comes to Jerry Kramer and his Hall of Fame hopes, an entire fan base has done just that.
At the encouragement of friends, Alicia started a Facebook page in May 2011. She posted letters of support from former NFL players, pictures, videos and links to stories about her father.
She also has a Twitter page and a website (www.JerryKramer4HOF.com) that has anything anybody could possibly want to know about Jerry and his football credentials.
"It just took off like a fire," Alicia said. "People that I know strictly through social media, Packers fans that I have been able to reach, it has been exponential.
"There have been other campaigns a few guys have done before, and they only had the option of making a phone call. They did what they could through community and getting people on board and writing professional football players in the Hall of Fame.
"What I’ve been able to do is reach all these Packers fans. Reach all these football fans. Even if I don’t reach them, they share that information or the information is shared with them from somebody else who saw what I posted."
There are more than 1,800 followers on Twitter and almost 1,400 likes on the Facebook page. The correspondence has been overwhelming, all but making this a full-time gig for Alicia in her quest to get Jerry the recognition she feels he deserves.
It has given her an opportunity to educate herself and others on the Hall of Fame selection process and the popular reasons given for why Jerry is not enshrined. Of the 17 players on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team, Jerry is the only one not in the Hall of Fame. He has been a Hall of Fame finalist nine times, the last coming in 1997.
There are some who think enough Packers from the Vince Lombardi era have been voted in. There are others who feel writers are jealous of Jerry’s career as an author. There can be an argument made that standout players from those Lombardi teams — Gale Gillingham, Dave Robinson and Bob Skoronski — also haven’t gotten in.
"Those are the things I hear a lot," Alicia said. "I can’t find a substantial thing that says Dad doesn’t deserve it. What I get from the public, and what I am getting from these Pro Football Hall of Famers, is that he should have been in there."
Alicia has received letters from 29 Hall of Famers endorsing her father, and more are expected. When she started, she had four letters that included support from Alex Karras and the late John Mackey. She has since received letters from football legends such as Frank Gifford, Dick Butkus, Bob Lilly and Roger Staubach.
Jerry, 76, was reluctant when Alicia told him about the campaign. She said he has come to terms with not being in the Hall of Fame and simply appreciates what football has given him and his family.
"He said, ‘Alicia, give it a year. If it doesn’t work out, let’s go fishing,’ " she said.
Hall of Fame voters make nominee selections and announce them around the third week of August. The final vote for the 2013 class will take place around the Super Bowl.
There is a 44-person selection committee that votes. It includes one pro football writer from each NFL city, including two from New York. There also is a representative of the Pro Football Writers of America and 11 at-large delegates.
Alicia has urged people not to tweet or write voters. They don’t like being bullied into selecting somebody, nor do they want pressure put on them to do so. Alicia feels if supporters do that, the campaign could backfire.
She is confident her father will get nominated, but when asked if 2013 finally will be the year he is elected, she paused for a moment.
"Last year, I thought he might go in," Alicia said. "There is something that is holding him back, and I just don’t know what that something is to be 100 percent sure that we have got it covered this time. We have a strong argument. We have a strong case, but I just don’t know.
"I’m telling Dad that he better start writing his Hall of Fame induction speech anyway."