As the dry spell of the 1950s came to a close in Green Bay, the Packers drafted Ron Kramer who brought his do-it-all style to the Packers at the beginning of their “Great Awakening.”Kramer was a standout at the University of Michigan where he was a nine time letter winner in football, basketball, and track. Not only did Kramer letter in all three sports, he starred in both football and basketball. He was the Wolverines’ leading scorer as a receiver for two seasons in football and accomplished the same feat in two seasons of basketball. Kramer played both offensive and defensive end for Michigan, but his college coach praised, more highly than any of his other attributes, Kramer’s abilities as a blocker. Those abilities would play a bigger role than Kramer would imagine when he arrived in Green Bay.
Ron Kramer was selected as the #4 overall pick in the 1957 draft. In his first season with the Packers, Kramer caught 28 passes for 337 yards and didn’t score a single touchdown. Paul Hornung would later admit that Ron just had a “don’t give a damn” attitude. He just didn’t seem motivated to live up to his potential.
Kramer missed the 1958 season as he did a stint with the U.S. Air Force. When he returned, he met a man who would wake the sleeping giant that was hiding in Ron Kramer.
Kramer returned to the gridiron in 1959 and was joined by a brand new head coach. Vince Lombardi. In his first two seasons under Lombardi, Kramer saw very little field time. In those two seasons, the highly touted all-purpose man only caught four passes for 55 yards as he learned the painful lesson that Vince Lombardi would allow players to give nothing less than the absolute best they had within them. Lombardi kept at Kramer until, one day, Ron changed.
In 1961 and 1962, Kramer followed up his dismal 1959 and 1960 seasons with back-to-back 500+ yard seasons and contributed 11 touchdowns as the Packers rumbled over opponents on their way to back-to-back NFL championships. More importantly, Kramer became an integral cog in the mighty machine that was the Packer power sweep.
On the sweep, Kramer would line up 2-3 yards outside the offensive tackle and isolate the outside linebacker. Everyone knew it was coming… no one was able to stop it. Kramer and the rest of Lombardi’s Packers practiced the sweep until they could run it in their sleep and ran it flawlessly on the field.
Kramer earned two championships with the Packers in 1961 and 1962 and played for two more seasons with the green and gold. After which he joined the Detroit Lions and watched as his former team would post their second three-peat in team history, a feat which would include back-to-back victories in the first two Super Bowls.
As with all the tight ends in Packer history, Ron Kramer contributed in a variety of ways as both a blocker and a receiver. And, he made a name in Green Bay Packer history.