Hall of Fame guard Jerry Kramer spent 10 seasons with Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi at the Green Bay Packers. He recalls the most nervous Lombardi ever was before a game – and it wasn’t even against an NFL foe.
It was against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl.
Kramer visits the Talk of Fame Network this week as part of our “5 Games” series of podcasts highlighting five significant games in his career. In this podcast Kramer discusses Green Bay’s 35-10 victory over the AFL champion Chiefs in that first Super Bowl.
Two networks broadcast the game, the AFL network (NBC) and the NFL network (CBS), and Hall of Famer Frank Gifford was working the game on the CBS broadcast. He interviewed Lombardi before the game and when he placed his hand on the coach’s shoulder, Lombardi was “shaking like a leaf,” according to Kramer.
“Giff said, `Two networks. No big deal. I’m pretty comfortable. I ‘ve got this. I can handle it. I’m cool.’” Kramer recalled of a conversation he later had with Gifford. “Giff said, `I was not nervous until I felt how nervous coach Lombardi was. Then that made me nervous.’
“This game was not just for the Green Bay Packers or the NFL. It was for the owners of the NFL, the long-term guys who had been there forever, the heroes of coach Lombardi to a certain extent. He had about as much pressure on him for a game as he ever had for any game I believe.”
Lombardi knew he had the best team in football. And his players weren’t nervous.
“We didn’t have a clue who these people (Chiefs) were or if they could play,” Kramer said. “But we knew we’d get $15,000 apiece if we won it, and we knew we were going to win it.”
But just winning it would not be enough for the Packers. That 25-point victory was a statement – and Lombardi underscored that statement after the game when he said the Chiefs would not compete with the top-tier teams of the NFL.
“I wish Lombardi would have had to block Buck Buchanan for just a couple of plays,” Kramer said. “He wasn’t talking about the game. He was talking about the attitude of the NFL owners and the difficult time they had getting together…the arguments they had with them (AFL owners) and the fight they had with them and the money it cost them. So he was salving the conscience and emotions of the other owners with that statement. He wasn’t representing the Green Bay Packers. He was representing the owners and the NFL.
“They said to him, `Vince, you can’t just beat them. You can’t just squeeze by. You have to rub their noses in it. You have to destroy them, beat them badly… you’ve got to embarrass them.’ I believe this was part of that whole emotion and the difficulty of negotiating the final merger of the league and the animosity that came from that and was left over from that. That was more for the owners benefit and the pride of the NFL than it was for the players.”
In the next podcast, we’ll talk with Kramer about the Ice Bowl – the 21-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1967 NFL title game that sent the Packers to the second Super Bowl. You can listen to the Super Bowl I podcast -- and all of our podcasts -- at VoKalNow.com or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes: