The Price of Playing Right Guard

small_8476980001I have recently been reading Instant Replay, The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer.  Jerry Kramer played for the Green Bay Packers from 1958-1968.  His diary covers the 1967 season and gives much insight into the day-to-day issues that a professional football player dealt with under the guidance of the famous head coach, Vince Lombardi.  Kramer played the position of right guard on offense and was one of the best of all time.  He was famous for his blocks on the “Packer Sweep”, a play in which both guards pull out from their normal positions and lead block for the running back going around the end.  Kramer was an All-Pro five times and a member of the NFL’s  50th anniversary team in 1969.  The position of right guard was and is absolutely crucial in the success of a football team; however, offensive line positions like right guard are not glamorous positions and consequently do not get the notice and recognition of other positions, like quarterback and running back.  On page 134 of his diary, Kramer relates the following.

“Too many times, a guy’d come up to me and ask the obvious question and I’d say, Yes, I’m a football player,” and he’d say, “What’s your name?” and I’d say, “Jerry Kramer,” and he’d give me a totally blank look and mumble, “Who do you play for?” or he’d confuse me with Ron Kramer and say, “oh, you’re the end from Michigan.”  It hurt.  But I guess that’s the price of playing right guard (emphasis mine) (Kramer, Schapp, p.134).”

In every successful company, there are usually many “right guards.”  These are folks who perform an absolutely crucial role in the success of the company but so often their contribution goes unnoticed or unappreciated.  They are not in the glamorous positions like a Manager or top performing sales people but without them the organization would suffer.  As a company leader, do not let their valuable work become their “price of playing right guard.”  Notice, recognize, and reward them.

*Kramer, Jerry,  Schapp, Dick, (1968), Instant Replay

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