CANTON, Ohio – One of Vince Lombardi's legends is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but it's not Jerry Kramer.
Defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson on Wednesday were named by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee as finalists for election into the Hall of Fame with the Class of 2013.
Culp and Robinson will join 15 yet-to-be-named modern-era candidates on the list of finalists from which the Class of 2013 will be selected. The Hall of Fame selection meeting will be held on Feb. 2, the day before Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
The Packers have 21 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, second only to Chicago's 27. Green Bay's last Hall of Fame inductee was Reggie White in 2006.
Robinson joined the Green Bay Packers as the team’s first-round draft pick in 1963. He immediately made his presence felt on a team that dominated pro football during that decade.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound product of Penn State helped anchor the Packers’ defense as the team enjoyed sustained success. Playing with rare athleticism for the position at that time, he helped Green Bay to three straight NFL championships, including victories in Super Bowls I and II.
“When I came in, Vince Lombardi pulled me aside and he addressed the fact that they moved me around at the all-star game,” Robinson told Packer Report last year. “He told me that our biggest concern in 1963 was trying to win the third consecutive world championship. They won it in ’61 and ’62. He said he didn’t want any controversy and (defensive coordinator Phil Bengtson) thought I’d be a great linebacker but there were no black linebackers in the National Football League in 1963 — that I’d be the first one. He didn’t want any distractions so he said if any reporters come to you wanting a story about you being the first black linebacker, refer them to me and I’ll handle them. I did and he did, and no one knows now. That’s how it was. That’s the way business was. He didn’t want anything to interfere with the team winning three consecutive world championships. He asked if I did, and I said, ‘No, sir, I don’t either.’ That was it.”
After 10 seasons with the Packers, Robinson finished his NFL career by playing two years with the Washington Redskins (1973-74).
He was named to three Pro Bowls, earned All-NFL acclaim three times and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s. Robinson recorded 27 interceptions from his linebacker spot during a 155-game career.
Kramer, a five-time All-Pro who threw the key block on Bart Starr's game-winning sneak in the Ice Bowl, did not make the cut, despite an aggressive marketing campaign by his daughter, Alicia. Inexplicably, Kramer is the only member of the NFL's all-50-year team to not be in the Hall of Fame.
Culp was selected in the second round of the 1968 draft by the Denver Broncos but was soon traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent the first six-plus seasons with the Chiefs where he was an integral member of the team’s Super Bowl IV championship team.
He continued his dominating play after a blockbuster trade landed him with the Houston Oilers in 1974. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year by the Newspaper Enterprise Association in ’75. Noted for his tremendous strength, Culp’s impact on the football field was recognized by his six Pro Bowl selections. In addition, he earned first- or second-team All-Pro acclaim five times and was named All-AFC his first three full seasons with the Oilers. He finished his NFL career with the Detroit Lions.
The former defensive greats must receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists. The Hall’s Selection Committee can elect a maximum of two senior candidates and five modern-era candidates for a class no smaller than four or larger than seven.
A senior nominee is an individual whose career ended at least 25 years ago.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.