Former NFL quarterback Tommy Kramer, who helped lead Lee High School to a state championship in 1971 with his pinpoint passing, describes himself as an "old-school guy" who prefers to keep a low profile.
"I have opinions about a lot of things, but I mostly keep them to myself," he said Sunday. "I don't really like the limelight."
While Kramer's humility is admirable, sometimes there's no escaping the spotlight.
Kramer discovered that recently when he learned he is among 10 people who have been selected for induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Kramer earned All-America honors at Rice, where he led the nation in passing yardage as a senior in 1976, before going on to a 14-year NFL career. He played 13 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, who took him in the first round of the 1977 draft, and one with the New Orleans Saints.
No doubt, Kramer's induction into the Texas Hall of Fame is long overdue. When you consider what he did in high school, college and the NFL, he has to rank as one of the best quarterbacks to ever come out of the Lone Star State.
"This is one of the greatest honors of my career," said Kramer, who is 54 and lives in San Antonio. "I'm proud to be going into the Hall with such a great group. I look at the names and it's pretty unbelievable."
New Braunfels Canyon graduate Lance Berkman, who plays first base for the Houston Astros, also was selected for enshrinement.
The Class of 2009 includes three former Dallas Cowboys - linebacker Chuck Howley, defensive end Harvey Martin and running back Dan Reeves - and Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams, who co-founded the American Football League with Lamar Hunt.
Reeves was an assistant coach with the Cowboys for seven seasons before going on to be head coach of the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons.
Others in the Class of 2009 are UT and Major League pitching great Burt Hooton, Baylor wide receiver Lawrence Elkins, SMU basketball player Max Williams and current Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey.
The date and time of the Hall of Fame banquet in Waco will be announced later.
Nearly 20 years after throwing his last pass in the NFL, Kramer remains one of San Antonio's iconic sports figures.
Although Kramer rewrote the record book at Rice and passed for 24,777 yards and 159 touchdowns during his NFL career, San Antonio fans still remember him more for what he did as a high school kid.
The mere mention of Kramer's name evokes memories of the days when he was the best high school quarterback in the state - on the best team in the state. Quietly confident and remarkably poised, Kramer had a knack for making big plays when Lee needed them most.
"Tommy had a lot of things," said Mike Crocker, a former Lee assistant who coached the quarterbacks when Kramer played for the Volunteers. "He had a real burning desire to succeed and an understanding of what it took to do that. He made the commitment to be the best he could be.
"I've always said Tommy was very coachable. He was eager to learn and tenacious at taking the fundamentals of throwing the ball and making them work. He totally submitted himself to do that."
The Vols went 27-1-1 during Kramer's two years on the varsity, beating Wichita Falls 28-27 for the Class 4A state title in 1971 and losing to Baytown Sterling 21-20 in the 1972 state semifinals.
Guided by head coach John Ferrara, the 1971 team finished 14-0-1 - a 7-7 tie with rival Churchill kept the Vols from being perfect - and the 1972 squad went 13-1.
Ferrara died of cancer in 1994.
In an era when most Texas high school football teams churned out yardage with ground-oriented offenses such as the wishbone or the veer, Lee achieved success by throwing the ball.
"We were innovators," Kramer said. "I take a lot of pride in the way we threw the ball, but there's no greater pride than winning the state high school championship."
Kramer passed for 2,588 yards as a senior, then a state record, and completed 149 of 294 passes for 28 touchdowns. In two seasons, he completed 327 of 597 attempts for 5,489 yards and 54 TDs.
Surrounded by sure-handed receivers Richard Osborne, Pat Rockett and Gary Haack, Kramer was a master at picking apart defenses with his deft passing.
Kramer was characteristically modest when reflecting on his role in the Vols' prolific passing game.
"I did enough to help us win," Kramer said. "It wasn't my team. It was our team. I had great people around me who wanted to win. We may not have been the most talented team in the state, but we were the best because we fought hard and refused to lose."
Kramer started all but one game as a varsity player, going 26-1-1. He made his debut in the 1971 season opener, replacing starter Bruce Trimmier and rallying Lee to a 7-3 victory over Alamo Heights on a rainy night.
"Coach Ferrara told me after the game, 'You're my quarterback and you don't have to be looking over your shoulder,'" Kramer said. "From then on, that made me work harder."
Crocker, now 66 and retired, said Kramer was the ideal triggerman for Lee's offense.
"He always played well within the system," Crocker said. "He understood our philosophy, which really was quite simple. There was nothing fancy about our passing game. It was all about execution, execution, execution. We'd run the out and curl (routes), and when the defense thought that's all we could do, we'd throw one behind them."
Kramer, a member of the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame and San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, praised Ferrara and Crocker for giving him the foundation he needed to succeed after high school.
"I put Coach Ferrara right at the top of my list of coaches," Kramer said. "Coach Crocker was a stickler for mechanics and the things I learned from him, I used for the rest of my career."
Kramer also credits Homer Rice, who became head coach at Rice before his senior season, for helping him prepare for the NFL.
"He took me aside and told me that he had some passing drills he wanted me to work on," Kramer said. "He said, 'You work on these drills every day and you'll be an All-American.' It was throwing at targets, which I had done since I was a little kid. The only difference was that Homer Rice expanded the target work from sideline to sideline."
Kramer earned All-America honors as a senior after setting a school single-season record with 3,317 yards. He passed for 6,197 yards during his career, another Rice record.
Kramer works for United Laboratories and still has a hand in football, instructing quarterbacks ages 8-17 three times a week at a local workout facility.
"I love it," he said. "The greatest thing is when the light bulb goes off in a kid's eyes and he learns how to throw the football. It's a rewarding feeling. I enjoy making these kids better players. I tell them there is nothing that can't be achieved."
Kramer heard the same from his coaches at Lee 38 years ago.
Photo of Kramer via AP