Jerry Kramer did something last week that he never thought he'd catch himself doing.
"I pulled for Dallas for the first time in my life," he said of his rooting interest in the NFC wild-card game against the Lions. "In a very serious way, I wanted Dallas to come to Green Bay."
He got what he wanted.
The Cowboys will play the Packers in a playoff game at Lambeau Field on Sunday for the first time since the 1967 NFL Championship Game -- aka The Ice Bowl-- in which Kramer made the key block on Bart Starr's quarterback sneak on the game-winning touchdown. That victory put the Packers in the second AFL-NFL World Championship Game, which officially became known as the Super Bowl the following year.
Kramer, 78, said he's excited to welcome the Cowboys back.
"I knew the Cowboys were playing well and I just used to love to play the Cowboys," he said in a telephone interview with Newsday. "To beat Jerry Jones and the whole crew down there, I wanted to play them. I wanted the battle. I wanted the struggle, the difficulty. I wanted the fight."
He won't be in the middle of it, but he'll have a ringside seat. He and others from the 1967 team will be on hand in Green Bay to commemorate the Ice Bowl. Temperatures won't be nearly as harsh as they were 47-plus years ago -- the forecast is for a high of 22 degrees, not the 16 below it was on Dec. 31, 1967 -- but just having those teams on the field certainly will conjure plenty of memories.
Kramer said his distaste for the Cowboys (last week's rooting aside) stems not from their championship game but from what happened after that.
"They stole the term 'America's Team,' " he said. "Green Bay was first called 'America's Team' and Green Bay was 'America's Team.' In the '60s, when football was just coming of age in television, there were only 12 teams, so they beamed Packer football into all the corners of the United States. They became America's Team because they were the winning team in the '60s and television came of age. Then the Cowboys said 'Gee, that's a great name, why don't we steal that?' That [ticked] me off a little bit."
Kramer said he is confident in his Packers but is under no illusion that it will be easy. "I don't discount the possibility of losing," he said. "They've got a great young quarterback and that offensive line is much better than it's been since Emmitt [Smith]. They have the running back and Dez [Bryant]. They have a pretty good offense and a pretty good defense. It's going to be a pretty good football game."
Between two pretty good teams. Two pretty good franchises, with two pretty good histories.
"There's a little arrogance there in the management that rubs you the wrong way occasionally," Kramer said. "I'm happy we're playing them. I'll be a hell of a lot happier afterwards if we win."