Packers.com is letting you, the fan, give us some answers in our “Best by numbers” series. Our website staff has compiled a list of eight numbers worn by notable players from different eras, and it’s up to you to vote for the best player to wear each number.
The ballot is on the right side of the page, and on the home page.
The vote on the previous installment, No. 84, went decidedly to Sterling Sharpe, with Carroll Dale taking second of the five nominees.
Only two more numbers to go. Second-to-last in the series is No. 88, a quartet of tight ends.
Ron Kramer (1957, 59-64)
The fourth overall pick in the 1957 draft, Kramer was a polished blocker for Lombardi's power sweep, and he compiled 2,594 receiving yards over seven seasons, a total that ranks second in franchise history for a tight end behind only Paul Coffman. His 170 receptions rank seventh and his 15 touchdowns sixth among Green Bay tight ends.
Kramer caught two TD passes from Bart Starr in Green Bay’s 1961 NFL Championship victory over the New York Giants and then posted his most productive season in 1962, with 37 receptions for 555 yards and seven TDs. He was named first-team All-Pro and also made the Pro Bowl that year. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1975.
Keith Jackson (1995-96)
Jackson played the final 1½ seasons of his nine-year career in Green Bay after his best days were behind him, but some would argue he was the weapon that put Mike Holmgren’s West Coast offense over the top.
In the pivotal 1995 NFC divisional-round playoff win in San Francisco, Jackson gave a taste of what was to come in ’96 with four catches for 101 yards and a TD. In the ensuing championship season, he posted modest totals of 40 catches for 505 yards but had a whopping 10 TDs, leading the team. Those 40 catches actually ranked second on the team, too, as the number of pass-catchers at Holmgren’s and quarterback Brett Favre’s disposal made the rest of the league envious.
Bubba Franks (2000-07)
A first-round draft pick, Franks was productive right from the start as a rookie and developed into a major red-zone threat. During an impressive four-year stretch from 2001-04, he caught 30 TD passes (including postseason games), and in each of his first seven seasons he had at least 25 receptions before missing half of his final year in Green Bay with a knee injury.
Underrated as a blocker, Franks deserves his share of credit for running back Ahman Green’s big seasons during that time frame, but it’s his pass-catching that stands out in the team record books. Franks ranks second among Green Bay tight ends in receptions (256) and TD catches (32), both behind Coffman. He’s fifth in yards (2,300), just 71 yards away from third place.
Jermichael Finley (2008-present)
He didn’t catch his first NFL pass until the eighth game of his rookie year and he was lost for the season on the first offensive play of Week 5 last year, so Finley hasn’t even played the equivalent of two full seasons yet.
It’s scary to think what he might accomplish, though. He’s already one of only 10 Packers tight ends to top 1,000 receiving yards in his career, and he was on his way to 1,000 in one season before he got hurt last year. His 159 receiving yards in the 2009 NFC wild-card playoff at Arizona is a franchise postseason record, regardless of position.
Finley is such a difficult matchup for opposing linebackers and safeties, and he’s so athletically gifted at hauling in the ball, that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been known to say that even when Finley’s not open, he’s open.
That does it for No. 88. Don’t forget to vote.