Retired Green Bay Packers tight end Gary Knafelc told NBC26-TV in Green Bay that he believes the NFL and the players association hope that players who retired before 1970 die off so they do not have to deal with them.
Knafelc, 81, retired in 1963 after 10 seasons and later became the public address announcer at Lambeau Field.
"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 in the TV interview last week, which ESPN aired.
"I'm not kidding at all. I'm very serious about that."
The NFL Players Association only cares about current players and those who retired after 1970, according to Knafelc.
"The ones that played prior to that, they've kind of just forgotten entirely," he said.
Knafelc said the reason the league is not concerned about players from his era and before that is that the injuries happened so long ago.
"They don't have enough records to justify helping you out at that time," he said. "In fact, they even come to the point of, 'How do we even know that injury was something you did playing football? It was not something you did later on?' "
Knafelc was the team's PA announcer from 1964-2004. He also played for the Chicago Cardinals (1954) and San Francisco 49ers (1963).