TOFN podcast: Jerry Kramer recalls Super Bowl II and Lombardi's final season
The Green Bay Packers won five NFL championships in a span of seven years, including a record three in a row from 1965-67. They capped each of the last two championships seasons with victories over the AFL champions in the first two Super Bowls.
But Jerry Kramer remembers that last championship season as the most difficult because the Packers were getting older and their identity had left for New Orleans in 1967. Kramer recalls that season and that second Super Bowl victory over the Oakland Raiders in this the final stop on the Talk of Fame Network’s “5 Games” series of podcasts with the Hall of Fame guard.
The NFL expanded to New Orleans in 1967, forcing its teams to leave some players exposed to the Saints. The Saints claimed 32-year-old Hall of Fame halfback Paul Hornung in the expansion draft, then the Packers traded their 32-year-old Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor to New Orleans. That left Green Bay’s offensive backfield – and Lombardi's vaunted power sweep – in the hands of youngsters Donny Anderson and Jim Grabowski.
“From 1959-65 or so, Hornung and Taylor must have gained 90 percent of the Packers’ yards,” Kramer said. “We were a running game. We were a running team. We’d thrown 17-18-19 passes a game. Hornung and Taylor were being replaced by Anderson and Grabowski, which was kind of an unfair situation to put them in: Okay, you’re going to replace this Hall of Famer and you’re going to replace that Hall of Famer. You’re going to replace two of the best running backs in the history of the game. Right. And by the way, your offensive line is getting a little older and your defense is getting a little older so you’re going to have to pick it up a little bit. It was difficult.”
The Packers survived the regular season with a 9-4-1 record, then survived the Ice Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys before throttling the Raiders, 33-14, in Miami. It may have been the ultimate manifestation of Vince Lombardi’s famous will to win.
“It started so early in the season, the first meeting of the year, he started talking about that championship,” Kramer said. “So there’s no way in hell are we going to come all the way to Miami and lose the championship. Or lose in Dallas. We are just not going to lose. We have paid the price to get here and somebody is going to have to pay a lot more than that to take it away from us.”
Kramer also talked about the development of Bart Starr into the team’s driving force, Lombardi’s health struggles that year with his still undiagnosed colon cancer, the plan to carry Lombardi off the field after his final game and the new cadence the Packers introduced to the Lord’s Prayer after that Super Bowl victory.
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