The Lombardi-era Packers guard, whose Hall of Famer teammate Bart Starr called him "probably the best player on our championship teams," is somehow still not a Hall of Famer himself.
There's no easy bet to make on who among the 15 modern-day finalists will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the announcement is made this Saturday.
My best guess for which of the first-year eligibles will take the honor is the New York Giants' Michael Strahan, the 2001 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and single-season sacks leader. Jerome Bettis, the former Pittsburgh Steelers running back who was 5th in all-time rushing yards when he retired, is also likely to be voted in. Among the players known as senior nominees, Dave Robinson, a mainstay at linebacker on the Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers teams that won three championships from 1965-1967, should also be enshrined, although this is the first year Robinson made the cut to the final selection.
But there will be a genuine irony if Robinson makes it. Of the 22 starters on Lombardi's mid-1960s championship teams, 10 are already enshrined at Canton. Robinson's selection would mean that half of the starters from those teams are now Hall of Famers. Just one all-time great of the Lombardi era, the player that Packers quarterback Bart Starr, himself a Hall of Famer, called "probably the best player on our championship teams" would not be in the Hall of Fame.
That would be Jerry Kramer, the Packers right guard for most of 11 seasons from 1958 through 1968. I mentioned Kramer and his omission from the Hall of Fame for The Atlantic about a year ago. Now I want to make the case even more emphatically: Jerry Kramer is one of the greatest players in pro-football history. If I were selecting an all-time team of players not in the Hall of Fame, I'd start with him.