October 10, 2012
About a year ago, I reviewed Instant Replay, the incredible book by Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap. The book was a daily diary of Kramer’s 1967 season in which the Packers won Super Bowl II. If you are a football fan, it is an incredible glimpse into the life of a player and the book holds up incredibly well to this day. You won’t regret spending $10 on Amazon.
Kramer’s biggest foil in the book was legendary Lions tackle Alex Karras, who passed away this morning. When Green Bay played Detroit, Karras would occupy Kramer’s entire consciousness. Here are the passages:
Before a Week 1 match-up:
As far as I’m concerned, the two toughest tackles in the league are Alex Karras and Merlin Olsen of the Rams, and I never, never say that either one is better than the other, because I don’t want to get either of them angry. Playing against Karras is like playing a chess game. If you try to pop him, he’ll beat you like a stepchild. You’ve got to be thinking all the time. You’ve got to be thinking about the move he beat you with two years ago. You’ve got to remember that everything with him is a countermove. I thought about him for 100 miles [on tonight's drive].
Obviously, I spend a lot of time thinking about defensive tackles. Football is a team game, but especially for the linemen and the receivers, there’s a dramatic, and important, individual game within the game. To help your team succeed as a team, you have to succeed as an individual; you have to win your own match-ups. In my position, sooner or later I’ve got to block almost every man on the opposing team–every lineman and every back. But seventy-five percent of the time I’ve got to block the defensive left tackle. Naturally, he dominates my thoughts and consumes most of my energy.
Alex Karras is spending a lot of time with me this week. He eats breakfast with me, goes to the john with me, brushes my teeth with me. I’m thinking about him every minute, how difficult he is to cut off on the inside, how he likes the outside on a pass rush, how he just loves to hit the quarterback.
Alex has half a dozen different, effective moves–it took him three or four years as a pro to develop them–and he uses all of them. One of his moves is a little hop and a skip to the outside.. He actually hops, and it looks funny, but it works. He charges to the outside maybe 90 percent of the time, but you can’t overadjust because he likes to change up and come to the inside with a real strong move, doubly hard to stop because you don’t expect it.