Tommy Kramer, erstwhile hero and villain for thousands of Minnesotans in the late 1970's and early 1980's, was elected to the college football hall of fame earlier today.
Kramer was a standout at Rice University, where he was a consensus All American on a losing team. He was the Vikes first round draft pick in 1977, and became a cult hero in his rookie season.
It was December 4, 1977. A home game against the then lowly San Francisco 49ers. The Vikes went down 24-7, Bud Grant brought Kramer in the fourth quarter, and he engineered the greatest comeback in Vikes history to that point, throwing three fourth quarter TD's to give the Vikes a 28-27 win. I still remember that game. When Sammy White hauled in a late bomb for the go ahead TD, I jumped so high on the couch I missed said couch coming down and splattered on the floor. My dad, after he made sure I hadn't killed myself, started whooping and hollering with me.
Yeah, the legend of Tommy Kramer was born.
Kramer was a guy you either loved or hated, and I loved him. He had a Honey Badger don't care attitude on the field, and would throw it into double or triple coverage. He could be terrible for 58 minutes, and then he was a first ballot hall of famer for the last two. He had a dip of Copenhagen or Skoal bigger than a football helmet in his mouth during post game interviews, and every week he just 'took what the defense gave us'.
Yeah, Kramer was maddeningly inconsistent, but man, if the game was on the line, and you needed a touchdown to win it, Kramer got it for you, more often than not. Does it matter that it was his three picks earlier in the game that got the Vikes down by 4 or 6 points with only two minutes to play?
No, no it does not.
Edit: Here is highlights of Kramer's coming out party, courtesy of the YouTubes. Kramer had a cannon for an arm, as you can see on his throw to Sammy White for the clincher:
Outside, freezing cold, awesome uniforms, and Tommy Kramer.