An initial version of this story appeared in "Packers in Our Communities" in December of 2015.
The way Gary Ellerson sees it, honesty is the hardest policy for former athletes now in the media.
"The toughest part for most guys and most former players is speaking the truth," said Ellerson, whose multi-platform visibility in the community has allowed him to enjoy a football-themed career long after his playing days. "You want to be still a player, and in that locker room, but you see certain things that may be a normal media guy wouldn't see or wouldn't know. It's tough to speak out on that, knowing at the same time, this is why the people hired you. You have an instinct other guys might not have, and that's what they pay you to bring to the table. It's kind of tough being in that position."
Ellerson, who lives in Muskego, has been at WSSP radio for a decade now. Now labeled 105.7 The Fan, he's one of three co-hosts on the station's afternoon sports talk program, The Big Show, frequently joined by another former Packers player, LeRoy Butler.
Ellerson, a running back and kick returner during his three-year playing career in the NFL, also competed for the Wisconsin Badgers football team. Still, despite the numerous local ties, he may seem an atypical candidate to remain such a part of the Milwaukee sports community. He finished his career with 688 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns.
"Although I went to Madison and played with Green Bay, I didn't really have that huge name," he said. "I had to re-invent myself all over again. I went back to school and got my degree (from Whitewater), so it wasn't as easy as most people think."
Ellerson and Butler can also be found on the Time Warner Cable Sports Channel Roundtable with Dennis Krause, talking Packers each Monday and Friday during the season. He also hosts his own weekly program on Milwaukee's CBS 58, "Chalk Talk with Gary Ellerson." He has essentially become the foremost source of Packers commentary in the market.
"I love my job at SSP, it's a great platform," Ellerson said. "Those guys have been great to me for a long, long time. Work with a good group of people … I come to work excited every day, even when it's not football season. We have other topics, lifestyle topics, too."
Ellerson got started when he was invited to serve as co-host of a postgame show on WISN (Milwaukee's ABC affiliate) – a rare live TV program that accepted phone calls from viewers.
He also served as vice president of Big Brothers, Big Sisters in Milwaukee, in charge of community development, shortly after his playing career came to an end.
He's also had the chance to coach his 11-year-old son, Brock, in football, baseball and basketball within the Muskego youth sports network. His oldest son, Jared, attended Catholic Memorial and now works for the Chicago Bears. His daughter, Katie, was a standout basketball player at Muskego who played in college at Evansville and now also helps coach her younger brother. Wife Marti, a Wauwatosa native, was a swimmer at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
"That's being in the community, too," Ellerson said. "It's not just my son. The youth football program is huge in Muskego, and it's also other people's children as well, other parents. I have something to give back to some of these kids."
Former Packers tight end Mark Chmura can be found in the area serving on the West Allis Central football staff this past season. Previously, he had coached at Waukesha West when sons Dyson and Dylan were on the team.
George Koonce, meanwhile, serves as vice president of advancement at Marian University in Fond du Lac. He briefly served as associate athletic director at Marquette and head athletic director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also co-authored a book, ""Is There Life After Football? Surviving the NFL" which looks at the rugged transition to regular life after a football player's career comes to a close.
Koonce, Butler and Chmura were all part of the 1996 Packers team that won the Super Bowl.