Erik Kramer, a former Pierce College and Burroughs High quarterback, has crossed the border in a fourth attempt to succeed in professional football.
Kramer, 23, signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League early this month and became the starter 2 weeks ago. In his first start, he completed 12 of 32 passes for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he threw 6 interceptions in a 32-29 loss to the defending CFL champion Edmonton Eskimos on Oct. 16.
Last Saturday, playing in a snowstorm for the first time in his career, Kramer completed 2 of 7 for 13 yards before being relieved midway through the second quarter in a 19-3 loss to Ottawa.
Despite the sub-par outing, Kramer is expected to start Sunday’s game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, co-leaders of the Western Division. Calgary, 5-11, is last in the 4-team division.
“My play has been a little bit inconsistent,” Kramer said after the Edmonton game. “It’s been tough to adjust with the short amount of time I’ve been here, but I’m starting to feel better.”
Kramer, who also played at North Carolina State, joined the Stampeders after being cut by the Atlanta Falcons and failing in a September tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Everything I heard from the NFL people is that I had some ability but I needed experience, so I figured I’d come up here and get it,” Kramer said.
Kramer was released the week of Atlanta’s regular-season opener after the Falcons claimed quarterbacks Steve Dils and Hugh Millen on waivers from the Rams.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Kramer said. “After it happened, I was very much down in the dumps because I thought I could make it. It hurts when you thought you had accomplished something and, boom, it’s gone real quick.”
Tampa Bay gave Kramer a 1-day tryout but decided against adding a third quarterback to its roster.
Kramer’s pro football odyssey began in 1987 when the New Orleans Saints signed him as a free agent. After being released at the end of training camp, Kramer found himself a hot commodity 2 weeks later when NFL teams were seeking replacement players during the strike. Kramer opted for Atlanta, starting 2 games and passing for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns in leading the Falcons to a 24-20 upset over a veteran-laden Rams team.
The Falcons kept Kramer after the strike, but he did not play another regular-season game. Kramer considers the strike a godsend.
“It got me a chance to play and show people what I can do,” Kramer said. “I don’t think I would have gotten another chance in the NFL if I didn’t play during the strike because as a free agent it’s tough to get interest generated from the coaches to give you a chance.”