Gary Knafelc spent 10 seasons in the National Football League, with nine of those coming as a member of the Green Bay Packers, but he claims the league no longer cares about him or any other retired players.
The 81-year-old told NBC 26 in Green Bay that players from his era who have experienced health problems since retiring are viewed as a thorn in the side of the NFL, and that the league is really just waiting and hoping for them to all 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 is no slouch when it comes to football accomplishments. The Colorado native is enshrined into the Packers Hall of Fame and served as the public address announcer at Lambeau Field from 1964 until 2004.
However, Knafelc played in the league before the players had a union, and doesn't believe the union cares much about him, either.
“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.”
Many retired players have come out and stated that they would not have chosen to play professional football if they could go back in time. This is primarily because of the heavy toll the game took on their bodies. But Knafelc is not one of those players.
“Dumb as I am,” he said. “I’d do it again for the same money if I could.”
Via Pro Football Talk