As a right guard, Kramer was an integral part of the famous Packers Sweep, becoming an #AllPro
five times and a member of the National Football League 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1969.
Before his election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018 at age 82, Kramer was noted for being a finalist for the Hall ten times without being voted in. In 2008, he was rated No. 1 in NFL Network’s Top 10 list of players not in the Hall. At his induction speech, he quoted something his high school coach had often told him: “You can if you will”.
Kramer was the 39th selection of the 1958 NFL Draft, taken in the fourth round by the Green Bay Packers. Kramer played every game in his rookie season of 1958 under first-year head coach Ray “Scooter” McLean, but the Packers finished with the worst record (1–10–1) in the twelve-team league. In January 1959, the Packers hired a new head coach, Vince Lombardi, the offensive coach of the New York Giants.
With Kramer playing right guard, the Packers won five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. He was also the team’s placekicker in 1962, 1963, and part of 1968. As a kicker, he made 29 field goals, 90 extra points, for a total of 177 points. He also scored ten points, on three field goals and an extra point, in the Packers 16−7 victory over the New York Giants in the 1962 NFL Championship Game.
During his NFL career, Kramer was often injured: among these were surgery to remove sizable wood fragments embedded in his abdomen from a teenage accident involving a loose calf on the family farm shattering a board and shooting splinters through Kramer’s abdomen and partially exiting through his back. After doctors cut the wood in half and pulled one part out from the front and one from the back, Kramer was at pre-season football practice 2 weeks later. He also overcame muscle damage from a lathe in shop class, a shotgun accident that broke bones, tore muscles, damaged nerves, and affected his liver, plus a badly injured ankle suffered in 1961. In all, Kramer played in 129 regular-season games; he also had 22 surgeries in 11 seasons. Despite these setbacks, Kramer was selected as an All-Pro five times (1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, and 1967); he was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993 and was the final member of the team to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Football was not his only career, though. In his penultimate season of 1967, Kramer collaborated with Dick Schaap on his first book, the best-selling Instant Replay, a diary of the season that chronicled the life of a professional football offensive lineman. The book climaxed with Kramer’s lead block in front of Bart Starr to win the “Ice Bowl” championship game. Kramer and Schaap wrote two more books together. Kramer played one more year, under new head coach Phil Bengtson in 1968. Following that season, in which the aging Packers fell to a record of 6–7–1 and missed the playoffs, he wrote a second book, Farewell to Football. After retiring as a player in May 1969, Kramer briefly worked as a color commentator on CBS’ NFL telecasts.
Following Lombardi’s death from cancer in 1970, Kramer edited Lombardi: Winning Is the Only Thing, a collection of reminiscences from coaches, players, friends, and family of Lombardi whom Kramer interviewed for the book.
In 1985, Kramer wrote Distant Replay, which updated the whereabouts of the members of the Packers’ Super Bowl I championship team following a team reunion at Lambeau Field during the 1984 season.
In October 2005, he released Inside the Locker Room, a CD set that includes Lombardi’s final locker room address as the head coach of the Packers in January 1968, immediately after Super Bowl II. In September 2006, Kramer re-released his 1968 bestseller, Instant Replay.