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Review-a-Day
Esquire
Wednesday, September 13th, 2006
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Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer

by Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap

The Greatest Football Book of All Time

A review by Charles P. Pierce

In the beginning, before there were as-told-to's and the snoop-o-ramas of the Internet, the late great sportswriter Dick Schaap convinced Jerry Kramer, an All-Pro offensive guard for the Green Bay Packers, to write a diary of a season under Vince Lombardi. The result was Instant Replay, a peek into the guts of professional football that 40 years later remains one of the most essential sports books of all time.

Of course, Instant Replay was helped when Kramer threw the most famous block in history, wedging a hole for Bart Starr to fall through in order to win the "Ice Bowl" NFL championship game. That play -- and, ultimately, this book -- made Kramer the most famous offensive lineman ever. But more, for the first time, Kramer took us through the intolerable grind of training camp, waxing rhapsodic about how good one sliver of ice tastes after a morning of grass drills. Yet the most singular figure is Lombardi, who, at a distance, seems an almost comical martinet. Kramer manages to see beyond the iconic bluster to someone who produced a kind of collective grace. It is a description that can be called loving in all the best senses of the word.


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