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Ex-Packer Gary Knafelc says NFL wants retired players to die off

Knafelc Getty Images

Gary Knafelc spent nine years playing for the Packers and later was the public address announcer at Lambeau Field, and he is enshrined in the Packers Hall of Fame. But he doesn’t think the NFL cares much about him these days.

The 81-year-old Knafelc told NBC 26 in Green Bay that players from his era who have had health problems are viewed as just a thorn in the side of the NFL, and that what the NFL is really waiting for is them all to go away when they die.

“We don’t have a voice, and I really believe the reason that we don’t have a voice is that they’re hoping that if we keep dying off at the rate we are, we’ll be all dead and they won’t have to worry about anything,” he said. “I’m not kidding at all. No, I’m very serious about that.”

Knafelc played in the days before the players had a union, and he doesn’t think the union cares about players from the old days.

“The NFL Players Association has to step up and protect us, and they don’t do that,” he said. “All they care about is the current players and the guys that played after 1970. The ones that played prior to that, they’ve kind of just forgotten entirely.”

Still, Knafelc is not among those who regret playing football.

“Dumb as I am,” he said. “I’d do it again for the same money if I could.”

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45 Responses to “Ex-Packer Gary Knafelc says NFL wants retired players to die off”
  1. mybrunoblog says: Jun 30, 2013 10:11 AM

    Knafelc is 81 years old. I’d sign up right now to live 81 years. Sounds like he’s still reasonably healthy too.

  2. marionbarber24isgod says: Jun 30, 2013 10:12 AM

    Whow there buddy. I think age is catching up with you. Can’t blame the concussions at 81, that won’t fly in court.

  3. thesteelers says: Jun 30, 2013 10:18 AM

    “Dumb as I am, I’d do it again for the same money if I could.”

    Well there you have it. Stop complaining.

  4. rodgers419 says: Jun 30, 2013 10:19 AM

    “The NFL Players Association has to step up and protect us, and they don’t do that,” he said.

    The NFLPA is not entitled to help you. You are not a player. You have not payed for their services. Anything they give you is more than you deserve. Whine more, baby.

  5. illiniftw says: Jun 30, 2013 10:33 AM

    Do any companies care much about their 81 year old former employees?

  6. vegaskid21 says: Jun 30, 2013 10:45 AM

    I wouldn’t say, Die off , that’s kinda harsh. More like ” go away” in more polite terms

  7. FinFan68 says: Jun 30, 2013 10:46 AM

    What a ridiculous assertion. He sounds like a bitter and senile old man. He expects the current union to “protect him”. From what, exactly? What future harm does he need shielding from? How does that statement mesh with his statement that he would do it all over again for the same money?

  8. peytonslucasoilstadium says: Jun 30, 2013 10:48 AM

    My job is hazardous. I accept that and I do not make millions of dollars a year for it either!

  9. loubearkane says: Jun 30, 2013 10:51 AM

    You guys are ridiculous , without them there in no NFL. He is 81 , I’m sure he didn’t form his opinion yesterday. The type of revenue produced by the NFL there’s no reason any NFL player is taken care of.

  10. BadScabRefs says: Jun 30, 2013 11:16 AM

    While it is true that NFL players did not have a labor union before 1970, all players that worked and sacrificed their bodies and brains to make the NFL what is today should be taken care of. The NFL Players Association is under no moral obligation to take care of NFL players that did not play under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. It is therefore the responsibility of the NFL to ensure that players who played before the advent of collective bargaining are taken care of. If the NFLPA wants to do its part, it could bargain with the NFL (in future labor negotiations) that any new labor agreement must include benefits provided by the NFL for pre-NFLPA players. Those benefits could include supplementary income assistance, mental health benefits, and a high-quality Medicare supplement policy.

  11. philyeagles5 says: Jun 30, 2013 11:17 AM

    Former players deserve nothing from the nfl. They chose a dangerous game and got paid handsomely to do it. It’s not the Nfl’s problem they’re all broke. Nfl jobs need to stop being called careers, because they’re not.

  12. orivar says: Jun 30, 2013 11:31 AM

    Without guys like him there’s no ALF-NFL merger, there’s no Superbowl, the game as we know it today doesn’t exist. So yeah..they deserve some respect.

  13. j972 says: Jun 30, 2013 11:36 AM

    “Do any companies care much about their 81 year old former employees?”

    Only the ones that have a HOF.

  14. valarmorghuliss says: Jun 30, 2013 11:43 AM

    Actually the NFL wants it’s retired players to live to be 100 be and in perfect health along the way. The last thing they want to evidence that NFL players have considerably short lifespans.

  15. thewarrenmoon says: Jun 30, 2013 12:18 PM

    Go away old man.

  16. keylimelight says: Jun 30, 2013 12:43 PM

    IIRC, the League announced this year (during Super Bowl Week) that they had formed various committees whose job it is to take care of NFL players with “needs” (e.g. medical, financial). Some kind of trust fund or something like that.

    The specific protocols have not been shared with the public that I know of, but I believe that they cover any and all men who ever played the game and will play in the future.

    This billion-dollar institution can easily set up a self-sustaining (interest generating) money system for appropriate disbursements for medical support. I think they have.

    (And. I don’t think it covers the financial needs of those who blew through their earnings buying $100,000 earrings.)

  17. malibu67 says: Jun 30, 2013 12:51 PM

    “While it is true that NFL players did not have a labor union before 1970, all players that worked and sacrificed their bodies and brains to make the NFL what is today should be taken care of.”

    I used to work for PPG paints back many years ago and now they continue to grow. I figured I contributed to their success so I helped them become what it is today. Does that mean they now owe me more?? NO.

  18. Norseman says: Jun 30, 2013 1:23 PM

    Hate to break it to you buddy, but there ain’t a lotta companies or unions- NFL, NFLPA and Packers included- that care much about 81 year-old retirees complaining about being left off the gravy train that started after you retired.

  19. Mr. Wright 212 says: Jun 30, 2013 1:56 PM

    I believe him, and have felt the same since the lawsuits came about.

  20. contra74 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:20 PM

    Wow, someone holding on to the past and complaining about it to feel relevant today. Yea, it smells like a packer fan to me. Just goes to show that this “poor me” mentality isn’t only in today’s packer fans but also it’s legacy fans. So sad.

  21. bigbadal21 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:43 PM

    This is not the player unions responsibility. The players union have done a lot for the oldtimers when in fact they have no responsibility to do anything. To say the Nfl owes todays success to the oldtimers is just stupid. To say the union owes them something is twice as stupid. This analogy could be used for any business that has endured and prospered. The very fact that they get pension money for a short term employment is beyond fair.

  22. ripster65 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:50 PM

    Before “1970” was 43 years ago. What the heck do you expect? Does that somehow entitle you to a lifetime of…anything? The NFL shouldn’t have to worry about anything once you’re retired yet you say you’d do it all again? WTF?

  23. ripster65 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:52 PM

    Oh, and by the way, most people don’t get squat after a mere 9yrs of employment.

  24. CKL says: Jun 30, 2013 2:55 PM

    My dad has a bad back and neck because of his job. You know what he got? He got to keep paying an exorbitant amount of money for malpractice insurance for years after he retired.

    I am so sick of these guys complaining especially when they say they’d do it all over again for the wage they were paid then. If they had other jobs (and most of those guys in that era had to) do they complain those jobs don’t take care of them after they retire either?

    My favorite response when an old timer was asked about the money guys get paid today was when Sammy Baugh was asked on NFL Films I think if he was mad seeing today’s salaries. His response was, ” Mad? ‘Expletive’ no I ain’t mad. Ain’t a expletive thing I can do about it.”

    Someone else isn’t usually to blame or responsible for your situation besides yourself.

  25. onbucky96 says: Jun 30, 2013 3:17 PM

    Sad. Hope he’s doing better.

  26. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Jun 30, 2013 3:28 PM

    I agree with Knafelc that the old school NFL ballers are receiving a disproportionately short end of the stick when it comes to NFLPA representation.

    The NFLPA chases the $ — so the current players are the grease that skids the wheels of the NFLPA, and the old guys are largely left out in the cold.

    But it’s very difficult to believe that an entire group of people is collectively wishing for the death of another group of people.

    That said, Knafelc’s phraseology rung some bells – and got his message in play, so the guy may have hit a bullseye by playing that card.

  27. 4512dawg4512 says: Jun 30, 2013 3:40 PM

    “I’d do it again for the same money if I could.” —– Thats awesome, you just don’t get that these days, now its just all about the paycheck

  28. steviaquinn says: Jun 30, 2013 3:44 PM

    If Knafelc was being sued every other day with frivolous lawsuits he’d want the scam artists to die off as well. the concussion suits are BS, people get depressed when they are no longer famous and are broke

  29. squared80 says: Jun 30, 2013 3:47 PM

    Um, yeah? The Player’s Union has the same mentality. They don’t want to pay out more money than they have to. It’s called business, and also called common sense. Take a class in economics.

    I’m not saying I support that mentality in any form, but to be upset about it just being naive. Come back to reality.

  30. nemobhax says: Jun 30, 2013 3:52 PM

    I can’t think of too many employers who offer healthcare benefits for life.

  31. chrldr12 says: Jun 30, 2013 4:02 PM

    Gary Knafelc was there when the Pack won their first two titles, and he was there when they lost that famous championship game in 1960, to the Eagles.

    He saw Lombardi up close. He played with Jim Taylor, Bart Starr, Paul Horning, Forrest Gregg, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Ray Nitschke, Willie Wood, Herb Adderley, Fuzzy Thurston, Jim Ringo, Jerry Kramer, Ron Skoronski, Elijah Pitts, Boyd Dowler, Max McGee, and Ron Kramer. Emlen Tunnell was even on that team.

    I didn’t see anywhere in Gary’s comments where he was complaining for himself. I know that Willie Wood is having a hard time. Lionel Aldridge also came to a painful end. There was pain there and Gary feels it and he needs to say something about it.

    Those players and coaches from the 60s were magnificent and they inspired fans and future players.

    I don’t know what can be done for them today, but some respect is in order here, I think.

  32. stevent92 says: Jun 30, 2013 4:49 PM

    NFL owes these guys nothing. They played a violent sport, got paid for it, and both the league and players have sinced moved on. NFL gave them the opportunity, they accepted it, what’s left to talk about?

  33. gmannj says: Jun 30, 2013 4:53 PM

    True they’re probably not owed anything legally. but they should be making the money off every time they show a clip of the 58 champ game, Ice Bowl, early Super Bowl’s, 65 Toss Power Trap, etc…because that stuff is what made the NFL….

  34. ripster65 says: Jun 30, 2013 5:53 PM

    They signed up for playing a game which has a career expectancy of a max 15yrs. There’s been very few who’ve actually turned their careers into analysts, commentators, etc. There’s been way more who haven’t managed their $$$ and are now complaining that they’re “forgotten”.

  35. ianijm says: Jun 30, 2013 6:05 PM

    I’m sorry … maybe I’m just cold-hearted, but I have ZERO sympathy for these guys. They played the game voluntarily. No one put a gun to their heads.

    I find it somewhat ironic that he bemoans the lack of a union, when probably 90% of the world’s workforce isn’t protected by unions. My employer could kick me to the curb at any time, with no compensation. I have no pension, no guarantee of health insurance, and absolutely no certainty whatsoever of continued employment. These are the circumstances under which virtually the entire world works. And I’m supposed to care that a guy who lived to the ripe old age of 81, and is still coherent enough to give interviews, doesn’t have a pension? Please …

  36. trapshoot says: Jun 30, 2013 7:15 PM

    Granted the NFL players of today ‘owe’ these guys nothing. But these are the guys that got the league where it is today. With the ridiculous salaries today’s players are pulling in they could certainly considering doing something for the old timer who truely need help – and not all do.

  37. obsessedvikingfan says: Jun 30, 2013 8:25 PM

    Another packer who thinks he is entitled so something because he played for the Packers.

    And deleted just like the other 2 posts.

  38. briang123 says: Jun 30, 2013 9:13 PM

    Just anther guy looking for a handout.

  39. contra74 says: Jun 30, 2013 11:05 PM

    Maybe he should sell off all of his packer stock. Wait…what? It’s not worth anything!?!?!?!?!?

  40. crownofthehelmet says: Jun 30, 2013 11:16 PM

    Now do I not only think that anyone over 80 should not have a drivers license, they shouldn’t be allowed interviews.

  41. padraighansen says: Jun 30, 2013 11:55 PM

    If I’m the NFL’s in-house counsel, and especially if I’m the NFL’s outside counsel, this is exactly the strategy. Sorry, but it’s true. The real opponent for the former players interested in pursuing any relief from the NFL is time….and it’s not on their side. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong – but it is, unfortunately, reality.

  42. louhudson23 says: Jul 1, 2013 5:16 AM

    These posts here are littered with the comments from some of the most miserable people on the face of the earth…..the lack of humanity,common sense and outright display of their personal failure as human beings is saddening. To think that every single day ,they rise up to look in the mirror at such sorry examples of human beings is to understand that the wretched expressions posted here are simply their disgust and anger at the sorry state of their own empty lives, shallow minds and rotten souls…

  43. gmannj says: Jul 1, 2013 6:38 AM

    He’s not looking for a handout, just stating his opinion. People here forget too that they didn’t make any money back then, most of them worked other jobs in the off season. You can’t compare NFL jobs to our 9 to 5 jobs like malibu67 does. They might make a little off your job but like i said earlier the NFL is making $$ off their history and it should be shared with the players.

  44. deltaoracle says: Jul 1, 2013 3:53 PM

    Phillyeagles, they were “paid handsomely”? Yeah, they were livin’ so high in those days that most of the players had to take other jobs in the off-season to make ends meet. Dork.
    Thanks to the Mini fans who are unable to pass up any opportunity to try to drag down the GB Packers. This lets the rest of PFT see what Packer fans have to put up with on a non-stop basis from you pitiful, jealous ankle-biters.

  45. thejohnsmith1122 says: Jul 5, 2013 8:37 AM

    orivar says:
    Jun 30, 2013 11:31 AM
    Without guys like him there’s no ALF-NFL merger, there’s no Superbowl, the game as we know it today doesn’t exist. So yeah..they deserve some respect.

    ——————————————–

    Yes, they deserve respect and no said they weren’t being respected. The point is they don’t deserve any addtional compensation from playing in the NFL.

    Also, even without guys like him there will always be someone else that’s willing to get hit and get paid like he did. The NFL would’ve still became the NFL.

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