MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Tommy Kramer is one of those names that resonate with Minnesotans, and for a number of reasons.
He was a gutsy quarterback for the Vikings, and was infamous for his off-the-field behavior. However controversial, he was always likeable.
This summer, Kramer will go into the College Football Hall of Fame for his days at Rice University. But why did it take til 2012 for such an honor?
“I came from Rice University. You don’t have a lot of players that come out of Rice University that play, you know, get inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame,” said Kramer.
Kramer is playing the role of one-day coach at Apple Valley High School.
“The ones that make it to the top – they put in the effort, and they put in the will too,” he says to his players.
None of his players ever saw him play. If they did, they would certainly remember.
He was an electric figure in Minnesota, considered a player’s player who learned from a coach.
“Well, Bud Grant to me is a player’s coach. I got to training camp, for a week and a half into training camp my rookie year and I see Jim Marshall and Carl Eller sitting on a training table during the morning practice, taking a nap,” said Kramer. “After about a week and a half I said, ‘Bud…How come them boys ain’t out there practicing with us?’ He said, ‘They show up on Sunday.'”
So did Kramer. And he took his share of hits along the way, including a concussion that lasted quite a while.
“I slept for 20 hours a day for the next month because I had no idea. And my parents came up…I said, ‘why the hell you come up for?’ And I go to sleep,” he said.
But Tommy was not known as a sleeper. The night life and rumors of carousing became his signature. Some would say the behavior short-changed his career, but not Kramer.
“All I ever wanted to do since I was six years old was play in the National Football League. And I charted my way, high school and college, how to get there. I wanted to be Johnny Unitas. I wanted to be Joe Namith. I have no regrets.”
Kramer is now 57 years old, and lives in San Antonio. He is married for a third time, and not really concerned with the grind of life.
“I work five or six days…a year…life is good, man. You get retirement pay, you get all this. Life is good,” said Kramer.