Former Bears QB Erik Kramer Had a More Tragic Life After Football Than You Think

To many NFL fans, Erik Kramer is a distant memory. But he played in the NFL longer than many, for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and other teams. But the QB had bad luck after his NFL days ended. Now it looks like Kramer may be done with an awful period of his life stronger than ever. Let’s look at how Kramer has had a more tragic life than you may think.

Erik Kramer’s NFL career

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According to Pro Football Reference, Kramer played 10 seasons in the NFL. He also had a stint in the Canadian Football League. In 1991 and 1993 he led the Lions franchise to the playoffs; in ’91 he actually helped the team win a playoff game. He finished his career with an overall record of 31-36 and a 57.3% completion percentage. He threw 92 TDs and 79 career interceptions. 

Kramer didn’t have a Hall of Fame career, but he was a serviceable starter and backup at times. He spent a decade in the league, so he could definitely play. His post-NFL life didn’t go quite as well as his career, however. 

Kramer’s tragic turn

Sadly, Kramer’s post-retirement career took a turn for the worse. In 2015, according to USA Today, he attempted suicide and miraculously survived. Kramer’s ex-wife lived with his one son, and Kramer had lost another son to drug-related manslaughter in 2011. Kramer’s ex-wife commented on the state of Kramer’s surviving son in a Facebook post at the time: 

“… Just a boy who loves his father and brother very much and is probably scared to death of the possibility that this could end … His dad was in severe pain and his dad would never leave him and he needs to know that over and over and over again.”

Kramer recovered from his near-death by suicide, but unfortunately, more bad times were ahead for the embattled former quarterback. 

The many struggles of Erik Kramer

Quarterback Erik Kramer of the Chicago Bears talks to reporters in 1998
Bears quarterback Erik Kramer talks to reporters in 1998 | Tom Pidgeon/Stringer

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Yahoo Sports followed up on Kramer, five years removed from his near-death by suicide. Kramer said he barely recalled his mental state at the time of his struggles. Kramer was dealing with some serious bouts of depression after losing his son, mother, and father in rather quick succession. 

In 2016, Kramer rekindled a relationship with an ex-girlfriend he dated from 2011-14. The woman eventually convinced Kramer to marry her. Throughout the relationship, Yahoo reported she stole over $50,000 from Kramer, whose ability to make decisions for himself was questionable due to his mental state. 

Though there were investigations into the woman’s improprieties, they ended when the two married. In 2018, Kramer asked for a divorce. She refused, and accused him of domestic violence — a claim Kramer denied. Eventually, in January 2019 and with $125,000 in legal costs, he ended the marriage. Earlier this year, the woman was charged with 12 felonies. The domestic violence charges against Kramer were dropped. 

Kramer says now that he’s no longer depressed and is beginning to reclaim his own life, stating: “I am walking through the wreckage and rubble of my life … But at least I feel normal walking through it.” The question now is, how much of Kramer’s mental health can be attributed to his football playing days?

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.