GREEN BAY — Jerry Kramer has been saying for awhile that he would be OK if he never got the call from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One more step, and he won’t have to live without that long-overdue honor.
Fifty years after his historic Ice Bowl block, the legendary Green Bay Packers guard is closer to enshrinement than he’s been in two decades.
The Hall announced Thursday that Kramer, 81, and longtime Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile, 64, have been nominated as the seniors committee’s finalists for the class of 2018.
Kramer, a five-time All-Pro and the only member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team not in the Hall of Fame, is widely regarded not only as the greatest Packer not in the Hall but also as the greatest NFL player who hasn’t been given the honor.
He was a finalist nine times from 1974 through 1987. He was also nominated by the seniors committee in 1997 but was not elected.
Kramer will be one of 18 finalists, along with one contributor nominee and 15 modern-era finalists. As many as eight inductees can be selected, if each receives 80 percent of the vote from the Hall’s 48-member selection committee, which will meet in Minneapolis on Feb. 3 before the Super Bowl.
Over the past five years, all eight senior finalists presented by the committee have been elected, including Packers linebacker Dave Robinson in 2013.
“My life has been storybook,” Kramer said in an interview in June. “The number of things I’ve been able to do have been amazing. I grew up in a little town in Idaho of 3,500 people. And I thought I’d end up driving a logging truck someday if I got lucky.
“It has just been a wonderful ride. I have no animosity. I was a little angry and a little upset about things when I expected to go in back in ’75 or ’80, somewhere in there and I couldn’t understand exactly what was happening.
“And then I looked around and said, ‘The game has given you 100 presents. It’s just been a sensational life. And you’re going to get angry and upset because it didn’t give you one more? That’s kind of silly — and stupid, really.’
“I had a long chat with myself and I said, ‘Life is good. This has been one hell of a ride.’ ”
And it’s not over yet.