Jerry Kramer said he understands Terrell Owens’ frustration when it comes to playing the waiting game for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The former Green Bay Packers offensive guard was a pivotal member on Vince Lombardi’s teams that won five NFL championships as well as the first two Super Bowls. Kramer was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1960s and — for the time being — remains the lone member of the league’s 50th Anniversary Team that resides outside of the Hall of Fame.
Prior to his modern-era eligibility expiring in 1988, Kramer was a Hall of Fame finalist nine times.
Kramer, who also was a senior finalist in 1997, will join Owens and others in this year’s class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“The emotional package that comes with this is all over the place,” the 82-year-old Kramer said in a conference call Wednesday, via Aaron Nagler of Packers News. “First, back when I was first nominated, there was high hopes and joy. I had made the all-time 50-year team and I’d made a lot of All-Star teams, so I kind of anticipated that I would go into the Hall of Fame. So, obviously, when I didn’t get selected, there was disappointment.
“Then, somewhere around the fifth or sixth nomination, I got angry.”
Kramer admitted that anger then turned into resentment.
“I remember (thinking), ‘Well, they can take that and they can put it where the sun doesn’t shine,'” Kramer said. “I went through probably the same emotional package that Terrell is going through.”
Kramer then said his tune started to change as he reflected on his career.
“Then I started thinking about it,” Kramer said. “I said to myself, ‘You know, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve been pretty damn lucky and pretty fortunate to have been with the Green Bay Packers, with Coach Lombardi, with my teammates. It’s been a wonderful ride.’
“Packers fans have been so wonderful and so supportive and so nice, that it just occurred to me, if I was going to be angry over the one honor I didn’t get and trash the hundreds of honors that I did get, that would be stupid. So I started to think about all the wonderful things that happened to me in professional football.
“I just ultimately felt that I had been gifted and it had been a wonderful ride. If I didn’t get the Hall, I didn’t get the Hall, but it wasn’t going to ruin my life and it wasn’t going to ruin my attitude.”
Owens, who will celebrate his big day on Aug. 4 at his alma mater of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, recently responded to a person on Twitter who was criticizing the wide receiver for citing Kramer’s decades-long snub.
“I’m SO HAPPY for JERRY (Kramer)!!” Owens wrote. “(He) shouldn’t have had to wait that damn long either! I’m doing this for guys like him. Past, present and the future.”
A finalist for the past three years, Owens was selected for enshrinement in the Class of 2018 along with linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, wide receiver Randy Moss and safety Brian Dawkins. They will be joined by Bobby Beathard (contributor) and seniors committee nominees Kramer and Robert Brazile.
Owens caused a stir last month by declaring that he would not be in attendance for the festivities in Canton, Ohio.
Although Owens gained much notoriety for on-field antics and clashes with teammates and coaches, he put up sparkling numbers during his NFL career.
A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Owens resides second in career receiving yards (15,934), third in receiving touchdowns (153) and eighth in receptions with 1,078. He played for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
Owens played at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga from 1992-95 and had 133 receptions for 2,320 yards and 19 touchdowns. He ranks second all-time in career receiving yards and third in touchdown catches at the school.