Ex-player says NFL wants retired players to die off

  • Brett
At 81 years old, former player Gary Knafelc says the NFL wants retired players who have health problems to die (Credit: Packersuniforms.blogspot.com)

At 81 years old, former player Gary Knafelc says the NFL wants retired players who have health problems to die (Credit: Packersuniforms.blogspot.com)

Former Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers tight end and wide receiver Gary Knafelc spent ten seasons in the NFL. The 81 year old Knafelc was a public address announcer at Lambeau Field and is a part of the team’s Hall of Fame. With a number of former NFL players suing the league due to their health problems, Knafelc says the NFL only wants retired players to do one thing, 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 believes that players from his era that have health problems are viewed as a thorn in the NFL’s side.

Knafelc also added that he played in an era before the league had a union. He also believes the current union does not care about past players from his time.

“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.”

Despite feeling like the league does not care if he is healthy or not, Knafelc still says he does not 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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6 Responses to Ex-player says NFL wants retired players to die off

  • Knafelc’s statement is not just a case of one old guy sounding off. In “Lombardi’s Left Side” (Ascend Books 2012), Royce Boyles quotes former Cleveland Brown and Houston Oiler Bernie Parrish using the phrase, “Delay, deny, and hope they die.” Boyles points out that benefits played to NFL retirees who played before 1970 are minuscule and far behind the benefits paid to retired major league baseball players of the era.

    BTW, Gary Knafelc was my father’s friend and my hero when I was growing up in Green Bay during the 1960s. I wish him the best of luck in his quest for the benefits he deserves.

    • As if someone held a gun to his head to make him play the game.

      • I really wouldn’t care if legally they aren’t entitled to receiving better health benefits, etc and if they weren’t “smart” enough to sign wealthier contracts, What I care about? is that this right now is a multi million dollar business and they were part of it, don’t see them as a former worker that left the company for whatever reason the rest of us will have, see them as shareholders (you don’t see any company treating shareholders like that) and they need to receive the best health care that a business like that can give for what they did to themselves (did it because they wanted, but without really knowing the effects).
        Don’t do it for the money, do it because is the right way to go, because they deserve part of the credit in turning it in the most followed sport in the US.
        But then again I am a fool for thinking like this and I don’t have a beef in this matter being from Mexico.

  • who is surprised at this story? the NFL wants money and money. They are a TAX FREE ORG that raises tons of revenue and at the same time turns their backs on the players that built the business so long ago. This is just short sighted greed. At some point it will come back to bite them and then they’ll wish they did the right thing when they had the chance.

  • These guys play from a couple of years to maybe 10 and they expect lifetime benefits.
    A person in the real workplace needs 18 years to be vested. All I can say is use your
    free college education and get a job that has bennies.

  • Knafelc played in an era when the salaries were in four figures and the players held off-season jobs to make ends meet. The equipment was primitive by today’s standards, and the players were encouraged to shrug off injuries and get back into the games. The NFL has so much money, the least they could do is pay these guys’ medical benefits for conditions that can logically be attributed to their football careers. Too much is given to unproven rookies, while the players’ union ignores the men who played before 1970. These are the guys who popularized the NFL in the early days of television. Those of us who remember those days regard them as heroes.

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