Saturday, November 08, 2008

Knafelc Karried

We’ve posted a blog entry before on Packers’ receiver Gary Knafelc being carried off the field after a win over the Lions in 1955, but here’s another one with a different photo. Knafelc (pronounced “Knawfull” with a hard “K”) is noted for scoring the final touchdown in the old City Stadium and the first touchdown in the new City Stadium (now Lambeau Field).

Knafelc worked in front of the microphone during his football career and after his playing days in a Packer uniform were done. He overcame a stuttering problem to host several banquets and public speaking engagements while working in public relations for Miller Brewing Company.

His voice work included gigs in front of the camera. He hosted the first Packers television show called "Packerama." Under the stage name Gary Kincaid, he even had a role in “Palm Springs Weekend” but did not pursue a full-time career, choosing his family and profitable school supply business over the tinsel of Hollywood. That business would merge with Valley School Supply, owned by former Packers Willie Davis, Ron Kostelnik and Bob Skoronski.

His experience with the Packers also made him a natural choice as P.A. announcer. Knafelc would arrive to each game two-and-a-half hours before kickoff to work on pronunciations and read through his announcements, presentations and advertisements. His son Greg, who worked for the Packers as a spotter, would identify the defensive players while Gary identified the offensive players.

As the years went by, the job became more demanding. The amount of copy greatly increased. The P.A. announcer must read five times as many commercials and several more special events than when Knafelc first started. He began those duties 50 minutes before each game and had to refrain from speaking when the Packers huddled or lined up for a play. "It's kind of hectic," he said.

After 40 years of service, he announced his last Packer game in 2004. Knafelc has a winter home near Orlando, Fla., and a daughter and two grandchildren. With the NFL regular season now running into January followed by playoff games and an increasing number of games falling on holidays, he was spending and less and less time with them.

Those of us with Packers tickets remember his work with the team fondly.