He’s known for clearing the way for NFL superstars like Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, but before Jerry Kramer was blocking for them he was creating space for Sarah Palin’s dad. Prior to his incredible career as a guard with the Green Bay Packers, Kramer called Chuck Heath his teammate in Idaho.
“Chuck was a running back with the Sandpoint High Bulldogs where I went to high school,” Kramer said. “He was also on the track team and basketball team. He was quite an athlete, a good pal, and a good friend of the family.”
This weekend, Kramer was a guest on The Palin Update with Kevin Scholla on SarahNET Radio. It was a pleasure and an honor to interview such a genuine man.
Kramer has very fond memories of his childhood days with Heath on the gridiron. His teammate’s toughness is what stands out to Kramer who described Heath as “small, quick and lots of guts. He wouldn’t back down from anybody…wouldn’t take anything from anybody.”
Now we know where Sarah Palin gets it from.
Chuck Heath spoke with actions more than words. “(He) didn’t say much, didn’t have much lip, but got the job done and did it really well,” Kramer said. “A great teammate and a good kid.”
After graduation from Sandpoint High School, Kramer and Heath went their separate ways. Kramer pursued his football career, first at Idaho and then with the Green Bay Packers. He went on to win five world titles. Heath meanwhile went on a great American adventure. Boldly moving his family to Alaska. He raised a wonderful son and three talented daughters, and has been there ever since.
While, Kramer and Heath didn’t see each other everyday like they did back in high school, a connection remained. Kramer’s brother even helped Heath land a job in Alaska.
Fast forward years later and both Kramer and Heath retired from extremely successful careers. Kramer enjoyed a tenure with the Packers filled with All-Pro honors and championship rings. Heath taught and coached children and continued to relish the beautiful state of Alaska with his lovely wife and four children.
Then in 2008, Kramer and Heath were reunited in an amazing way.
When Sarah Palin, then governor of Alaska was picked by John McCain to be his running mate, a reporter approached Kramer. The reporter wanted to know if Kramer knew Palin. He said no. When asked if he knew Chuck Heath, Kramer smiled and said yes. Kramer and Heath had lost touch for some years and Kramer was not aware of the size of Heath’s family nor his daughter Sarah’s married name. After putting two and two together Kramer just couldn’t believe what was happening.
“Am I hearing this right?,” Kramer asked himself. “Is this correct? Am I making a mistake here somewhere? This is impossible. A kid from Sandpoint, Idaho is going to be on a national ticket.”
It was true.
“It was a surprise,” Kramer said. Then after letting it all soak in he sat down with a tall beer and did his research on his childhood friend’s suddenly world famous daughter. He liked what he discovered.
“I know Sarah is a straight lady,” Kramer said. “She’s honest, she’s intelligent, she’s gifted… but she’s honest. The biggest part of the whole thing with me is her integrity. We can find somebody to tell her where the hell Somalia is or anything else but having the basic integrity, that’s really hard to find.”
Kramer was sold.
“When I decided that she had that (integrity) and she could get the help of anybody she needed, I said I’m with her,” Kramer said. “I’m in and I’ll do whatever I can to help…and good luck.”
After reading up on Palin, Kramer thought he’d break out his old high school yearbook to see if his pal Chuck Heath left him a note all those years ago. He sure did.
It read “Jerry, I don’t like to write… so I won’t. Chuck”
Looks like Mr. Heath passed that quick wit down to his daughter as well.
It’s no wonder Kramer supported the politics of his friend Chuck Heath’s daughter. Conservatism and commonsense can be found throughout the world of athletics, especially at the highest level
People just trying to make an easy buck don’t last very long in pro sports according to the Packer great. In the real world however, including the world of politics, those who cut corners often do make their mark. “You tend to judge the rest of the world by the guys you spent the last ten years with,” Kramer said. After some bad business deals where he ended up on the short end of the stick, Kramer changed his approach. “I made some adjustments and just realized there’s a fairly significant segment of the population that really doesn’t care about anything but their own pocket book,” he said. “That’s just life today and the way it is so we need to adjust.”
Today, Kramer is back in Idaho with his wife, Wink, and plenty of family nearby. He still inexplicably hasn’t been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hopefully, that day will come, but no matter what, Kramer is making the most of life now just as he did during his playing days. Surely, he cherishes the great memories of playing for Vince Lombardi and blocking for Hornung and Taylor, but he also remembers all the times he opened holes for Chuck Heath back in high school.
“He was by far the most appreciative,” Kramer chuckled. “These other guys thought that they were doing me a favor.”
To hear Jerry Kramer’s complete interview on The Palin Update with Kevin Scholla, including Kramer thoughts on his Hall of Fame snub and the mutual respect he saw between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears please see:
The Palin Update with Kevin Scholla is a weekly program on SarahNET Radio featuring news regarding Sarah Palin, top guests, and political commentary. It can be heard at www.sarahnetradio.net. Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter @KevinScholla