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Rice’s Tommy Kramer Inducted into 2012 NFF College Hall of Fame - Anticipating Solid Performance by Owls in ’12 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

2012 NFF College Hall of Fame inductee Tommy Kramer of Rice never had the chance to play in a bowl game but relishes the opportunity to enter the Hall and watch the Owls play in their third bowl game since 2006 Saturday against Air Force in the 10th annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium.

Kramer is no stranger to Amon Carter Stadium while playing there twice during his 1973-76 Rice career against TCU.

Though the Owls were going through a rebuilding phase in the middle 1970s after being a Southwest Conference powerhouse in the 1930s-early ‘60s period, the San Antonio native feels he might have helped as a building block as the Owls began to turn things around in the late 1980s-2012 time frame.

And he’s extremely proud to represent his university in the College Football Hall of Fame.

"It's not something that when you are growing up you thought about but as you get older you appreciate it more," he said Kramer. "It's a great honor. I'm very happy and very humbled to be a part of that unique fraternity."

Coincidentally, his On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments®, occurred 39 years to the day – Oct. 13, 1973 - when Kramer drew his first college starting assignment against Notre Dame at Rice Stadium and fellow future NFF College Hall of Fame TE Dave Casper and DE Ross Browner of the Fighting Irish. The 2012 Owls responded to Kramer’s standing-ovation plaque reception for the Hall at Rice Stadium with a 34-14 triumph over UTSA of the Western Athletic Conference.

He might have been an inspiration as well for the young Owls with the honor as they started a 5-1 stretch to end the regular season and to become bowl eligible the weekend of the win over the Roadrunners.

Now the fifth place recipient in Heisman Trophy voting in 1976 and one of only two quarterbacks to earn consensus All-America honors for sub-.500 can reflect on a standout career and the Owls’ success under head coach David Bailiff and his staff in recent seasons.

He certainly earned his spot in the hearts of Owl fans and college football enthusiasts everywhere with his gritty performances as an undergraduate and later during a 14-year career with the Minnesota Vikings (1977-89) and New Orleans Saints (1990) in the national Football League.

One of only two quarterbacks in college football history to earn consensus All-America honors for a sub-.500 team since 1970, Kramer proved his worth by finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1976. Kramer played quarterback at Rice from 1973-76.

"Tommy Kramer was a thrilling player to watch during his time at Rice," said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. "He carried the Owls during his time and Rice, and his style of play was truly ahead of its time.”

His Rice performances for undersized and often-outmanned squads were legendary – especially in his senior season in ’76. The sixth all-time Rice inductee led NCAA Division I-A (now FBS) with both 3,317 passing yards and 3,272 yards of total offense. Both numbers ranked second in NCAA DIA single-season history at the time. The 1976 Southwest Conference Player of the Year also was the first QB in SWC history to top 3,000 yards of total offense in a single season.

He recorded four of the top eight passing category performances in SWC season history and later held every career and single-season school record for passing and total offense for more than 30 years. He paced Rice on every passing and total offense statistical ledger in each of his freshmen-senior seasons.

The 27th player selected in the first round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the Vikings responded in similar fashion while playing in parts of three decades in the pro ranks.

He was an All-Pro quarterback, 1986 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, a member of the prestigious 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings group, threw for 24,777 career yards, and passed for 159 touchdowns from 1977-90.

He joined fellow Owls greats Weldon Humble (1961 inductee), James Williams (1965), Bill Wallace (1978), Dick Maegle (1979), and Buddy Dial (1993) in the NFF College Hall of fame in 2012 as well as former Rice head coaches Jess Neely (1971) and John Heisman (1954).

Yes, Tommy Kramer has been added to the most illustrious group of college football standouts in history, and a final “icing on the 2012 cake” could be nothing better than Rice’s sixth bowl victory in 10 contests Saturday over a talented Air Force squad.