It has taken me a while to get to this, but, after long thought, I needed to post some comments on the passing of my friend and Michigan Football legend Ron Kramer.
Those of us who are Michigan Football fans, former players, or just lovers of Michigan understand the concept of the Michigan Tradition. Well, with Kramer's death last Saturday prior to the Notre Dame game, a piece of the living tradition was gone forever. Just having him around, reminded me of the Crislers, Oosterbaans, and other names from the past. He was our connection to another time. He was our historical connection to what I consider the legendary Michigan past. That's why I called him "The Legend." He was truly a living legend, and I will miss him dearly, as many will who knew him.
His athletic prowess was unsurpassed. 9 letters at Michigan. A basketball career in the Big Ten that was record breaking. A football career that required his number be retired after his senior year because his impact on Michigan football was so profound. He would walk over from a spring practice session in football to Ferry Field and compete in track and win events. Drafted in the NFL he won world championships, none other than Mike Ditka called him the best blocking tight end in the history of the game. Frank Beckmann calls him the Jim Thorpe of Michigan, and he's right. There has never been an athlete like him in this State ever! These accomplishments and honors are all documented, they are in the recrod books, but he was much more than that to those who knew him.
He had a larger than life personality. He was eccentric, gruff, loveable, impulsive, and immensely entertaining. The first time you met him, you might have been taken aback, and not sure about him, but after a few minutes, you found yourself taken in by a man who could be friends with presidents and cab drivers alike. He was one of a kind.
The most amazing thing about him was his love for Michigan. His spirit enveloped you. The force of that affection for Michigan athletics infected anyone who got near him. He had numerous awards and honors that came his way as a pro athlete. He had two world championship pro football rings, and yet what he wore on his finger most often was his "M" ring that signified his years as a Michigan football player. I have that same ring. Because Ron Kramer wore his to the day he died speaks volumes about his love for Michigan. His actions to wear that ring in many ways makes the ring I wear on my finger more valuable. You see it is my belief that if he felt that strongly about that "M" ring it makes that ring really special indeed.
If he made that ring the jewelry of his choice, then it takes on an even more profound meaning to me, becasue he was who he was. He believed in class and character. He believed in being the leaders and best. He belongs to be mentioned in the same breath as Yost, Crisler, Harmon, Ford, Schembechler and any others you choose. He may have left us, but there is no way his spirit and impact on Michigan will ever leave us. Thats why the Michigan tradition is as strong as it is. Men like Ron Kramer make up the fabric of that tradition which is impossible to tear apart.
God bless you and keep you "legend," we wil miss you.