Book Review: Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer
by Jerry Kramer / Edited by Dick Schaap

I bought this book for a dollar at the cheap bookstore in Springfield (you know, the one on Glenstone. Come on, people, work with me here; the name’s not important, the six for five dollars hardbacks in the very back are). As the football season geared up, I thought this would be a worthy read, and hey, it was. Packers partisanship aside, it’s a good book.

The book chronicles the 1967 football season from the point of view of the veteran guard. He kept notes and recorded his thoughts on tape every day from the training camp through the end of season. It reminded me a lot of Blue Fire: A Season Inside the St. Louis Blues which I read last year; however, the two differ in that instead of a sportswriter, the point of view is all player.

So in our daily capsules, we get inside the concerns of a 31 year-old football player, slightly afraid that he’s losing a step to the younger players. We’re coming fresh off of the Packers second consecutive NFL championship and their win in Super Bowl I. Kramer’s got lots of outside investments that he worries over, and he mentions from time to time what’s he’s reading during the season. But the book does focus on the Packers, playing with Lombardi and with the loss of Paul Hornung to the new New Orleans Saints expansion team.

As I mentioned, the book’s told in a diary style, with each day having its paragraphs or pages whether Kramer goes hunting or participates in the Ice Bowl. This makes it easy to read in short chunks, although the pace and voice really make it entertaining enough to read in larger doses.

Since the book chronicles an era before my birth, part of its charm lies in its details about a world I’d never know. Green Bay and Milwaukee described in the late 1960s and no mention of the War in Viet fucking Nam, man. Which differs, strangely, from the football season 2004, where the whole world’s talking about that war. One does get a point of contrast between some aspects of the game then and the game today–no agents, limited free agency, and so on. And on the field: well, let’s just give this some eighties kid perspective: the Jerry Kramer’s biggest concerns in the opponents he needs to block are Father Murphy, Webster’s adoptive father George Papadapolis, and Officer Moses Hightower. That’s just weird.