Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer
Review by C. Douglas Baker
I’m a big professional football fan and love reading about football. Jerry Kramer’s Green Bay Packers diary – which details the 1967 season of the Green Packers, was quite an enjoyable and educational read for me.
For starters, the Green Bay Packers in 1967 were clearly the best team in pro football but were showing signs of aging. This season saw the infamous Ice Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship where Jerry Kramer threw a key block to get Bart Starr in for a touchdown, securing a trip to Super Bowl II. And of course this year also saw the Packers win its second straight Super Bowl and the legendary coach Vince Lombari’s retirement from the Green Bay Packers.
Kramer’s diary is pretty much just that – a retelling of what he went through during the 1967 season. Some things are familiar. Don’t let the hyperbole or nostalgia fool you, money WAS a big issue in professional football back then even if the contracts were not that large. Kramer talks a lot about money and business issues in his book.
Kramer also tells us a bit about what it was like to be a player under Coach Lombardi who drove the players relentlessly and made them better than they otherwise would have been both as individuals and a team.
The players clearly had a love-hate, father-son relationship with the coach. Also, some of the stories about the playboys on the team like Max McGee and Paul Hornung are humorous. In today’s NFL it seems the shenanigans of players involve guns and criminality. On this team, it was just booze and chicks, good old boys having fun.
And of course it was interesting to see how Kramer thought of the upcoming opponents – both individuals and teams – as he prepared to face them.
Maybe the most interesting aspect of the book is a bit of introspection on Kramer’s part. He was an older player (31), by football standards, and feeling it. He often wondered why he went through the pain of pro football and it mainly came down to a simple fact – he was a football player. While he didn’t define himself totally by football, in essence that is what he felt he was. Of course the money and the championships made it worth it.
Overall I would definitely recommend this book to professional football fans.