By Mick Holien
It took a while.
Jordan Montana finally will be recognized for more than the Freeman and the 2006 discovery of one of the world’s greatest fossils – tabbed dueling dinosaurs – native son Jerry Kramer (born there in 1936) at last takes his place among the pro football elite.
And the player barely identified in the famous photo hoisting Vince Lombardi on his shoulders after making the block that led Bart Starr into the end zone in the NFL Championship game in the so called Ice Bowl game now gains his due recognition.
And even more than that Packer fans – wait for it – right after this time out.
Yes and it is true while Jerry was born in the Treasure State and I claim White Salmon Wash as my birthplace, we both attended Farman Grade School in Sandpoint Idaho
No kidding I went to school with an NFL Hall of Famer? Well not really Kramer. Eight years my senior, was already toiling his wares down the road in Moscow playing for the Vandals of Idaho in years before the formation of the Big Sky Conference (1963).
And while both schools are charter members of the Big Sky, Montana left the Pacific Coast Conference (the predecessor to the Pac Six, now Pac12) for the Skyline Conference in ’49 while Idaho was still in the league when Kramer played.
Talk about persistence Kramer, who retired in 1968 after an 11-yesar career has been nominated for the prestigious Canton, Ohio, Hall ten times.
Thus the fate of an offensive lineman (No 64) who was the recognized leader of Lombardi’s power run game fueled by Jim Taylor.
Montana’s first ever NFL Hall inductee, drafted in the fourth round by the Pack, was the sole member of the league’s 50th anniversary team who was not already chosen for the Hall.
When I visited the Hall on a Griz football road trip the only stretch Montana connection was the bust of Dan Fouts coached by then Griz head man Don Read.
The tiny burg of Jordan and the Treasure State finally is represented and word is they may even erect a sign in his honor.
In an understandable impassioned and lengthy acceptance speech, Kramer spoke of playing for the legend Lombardi – “He would talk about commitment,” he said. “You don’t do things right once in a while. You do hem right all the time, so we got into discipline, consistency, pride tenacity, belief in your team, and yourself.”
The 82-year-old who now lives in Boise quoted William Ernest Henley: Out of the night that covers me. Black as the pit from pole to pole. I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul. In the felt clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeoning of chance my head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the Horror of the shade. And yet the menace of the years finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate. How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate. I am the champion of my soul.
William Ernest Henley.
Look it up … Just sayin’