(Photo by The Comeback)
Gary Knafelc was an astonishing figure for the Green Bay Packers from 1954-1962, helping lead the way to back-to-back championships in 1961 and 1962. Knafelc was a focal point in Vince Lombardi’s offense being utilized as a blocking and receiving option. His time spent with the Packers, he caught passes from Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr. Unfortunately the NFL world just recently lost Starr, as he passed on May 26,2019.
I spoke with Knafelc about his time with the Packers, and what it entailed playing for Vince Lomardi and quarterback Bart Starr.
“Bart and I were roommates for seven years, so when you room with someone for seven years in the national football league you have the privilege of experiencing the high points and low points,” said Knafelc. “He never said anything bad about anybody and if he caught you doing that, he’d let you know that was the wrong thing to do. He was the most honest man I’d ever met and had a serious concern for the feelings of others around him, that’s why his teammates loved him so much”
Bart Starr really was the ultimate teammate, and by speaking with Knafelc about his experience playing with Starr, he had nothing but high praise for the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame quarterback. When teammates not only look at what kind of player you are, but value the true person underneath the helmet, that’s when they dig deep for the man standing next to them.
I asked Knafelc if he saw any similarities between Starr and the kind of play style that Aaron Rodgers possesses.
“One thing you have to realize is Aaron Rodgers has everything in the world, physically he has a great arm, he has good speed, he’s a good athlete. Bart was none of those, he wasn’t that good of an athlete. In fact, in the offseason when we played basketball, we wouldn’t let him play with us and he was well aware of that, but he gave you 110% of what he had.”
It’s no secret Rodgers is a very gifted athlete, but there are apparent differences between him and Starr. Rodgers relies a lot on his ability to extend plays with his extraordinary strong arm, versus Starr was a phenomenal thrower of the football, placing the ball right where it needed to be on a consistent basis.
Furthermore, we spoke about his time playing under six-time champion, Vince Lombardi.
“Coach Lombardi taught you a lot of football, but the carryover into life was even greater.”
Lombardi gets a lot of credit due to his success coaching, but Knafelc praises his former coach for all the life lessons and off the field things he taught his players.
Knafelc was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1976. His legacy still lives on as a memorable player for such a historic organization. After his playing days, Knafelc served as the Packers public address announcer from 1961-2004.
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