Bernie Smilovitz: Why I wanted to talk to former Lions QB Erik Kramer

Exclusive 1-on-1 with Erik Kramer reveals details about that night

Detroit Lions quarterback Erik Kramer (12) tosses a pass with a defender bearing down on him during the NFL Wildcard Playoff, a 28-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers on January 8, 1994, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by Betsy Peabody Rowe/Getty Images) (Betsy Peabody Rowe, Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – Erik Kramer’s story has intrigued me for a long time. We all remember him because he was the quarterback in 1992 when the Lions won their only playoff game since 1957. But his life proved to be much more difficult than that day at the Silverdome when the Lions beat the Cowboys.

I called Kramer in late November at the urging of Lions all time great Lomas Brown. He said Kramer had recovered from some personal tragedies and was doing well. One call to Kramer and I was on my way to California to see him.

Full story: Former Lions QB Erik Kramer opens up about suicide attempt, 2nd chance at life

Erik Kramer was as open and honest about his life as any athlete I have ever met or interviewed. His emotions speaking about the death of his son Griffen and his own attempted suicide were as raw as one would imagine. During his rehab I learned he had very little emotion and he had cognitive skills of a 6 year old after a bullet damaged his brain.

When he spoke to me it was clear he had a story he wanted to tell. He never held back and the tears flowed freely. And his recall of events when he played for the Lions was spot on.

Kramer now wants to help other people. He urges folks to contact the suicide prevention hotline if they’re down and don’t know where to turn. And he wants to mentor young kids about kindness and compassion in hopes of wiping out bullying.

The road has been long and painful for Erik Kramer. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. But Kramer has fought his way back. And today he has found new purpose and meaning in life.

If you or anyone you know are in a state of emotional distress WDIV TV urges you to reach out to: If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.


About the Author:

Bernie brings sports to Metro Detroit. You can catch him on Local 4 News weekdays at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.