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Chuck Bednarik

Chuck Bednarik
No. 60     
Linebacker
Center
Personal information
Date of birth: May 1, 1925 (1925-05-01) (age 84)
Place of birth: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 233 lb (106 kg)
Career information
College: Pennsylvania
NFL Draft: 1949 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Debuted in 1949 for the Philadelphia Eagles
Last played in 1962 for the Philadelphia Eagles
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
Stats at NFL.com
Pro Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame

Charles Philip Bednarik (born May 1, 1925 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) is a former professional American football player, known as one of the most devastating tacklers in the history of football and the last two-way player in the National Football League. A Slovak - American from the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, he is perhaps best remembered for a tackle on the New York Giants' Frank Gifford, then a star running back, that knocked Gifford out of professional football for a year and a half, and shortened Gifford's playing career.

He played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 through 1962 and, upon retirement, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 (his first year of eligibility).

Bednarik currently resides in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley. His great-nephew, Adam Bednarik, was a third-string quarterback at West Virginia University.

Contents

Early life, military service and college career

His parents emigrated from Široké, a village in eastern Slovakia, in 1920 for work, settling in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and working for Bethlehem Steel. Their son Charles was born in 1925. He was attending school at SS. Cyril & Methodius in Bethlehem, which was a Slovak parochial school with Slovak the language of instruction.

Bednarik began playing football in Bethlehem. He played for Bethlehem's Liberty High School.

Following his graduation from high school, he entered the United States Army Air Forces and served as a B-24 waist-gunner with the Eighth Air Force. He flew on thirty combat missions over Germany and was highly decorated. After the final mission, he thanked God for surviving and said he was never going to fly again, though he flew many times afterwards.

Bednarik subsequently attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he was a 60-minute man, excelling as both center and linebacker, as well as occasional punter. He was a three-time All-American, and was elected a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, as were two of his teammates on the 1947 squad—tackle George Savitsky and tailback Tony Minisi-- and his coach, George Munger. At Penn, he also was third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1948 and won the Maxwell Award that year.

Pro Football career

Bednarik was the first player drafted in the 1949 NFL Draft, by the Philadelphia Eagles, starring on both offense (as a center) and defense (as a linebacker). He was a member of the Eagles' NFL Championship teams in 1949 and 1960. In the 1960 championship game, Bednarik tackled Jim Taylor on the final play of the game at the Eagles' eight yard line (the last Eagle between Taylor and the end zone), and remained atop Taylor for several seconds as the final seconds ticked off the clock, ensuring the Packers could not run another play. The Eagles won that game 17-13.

A tough and highly effective tackler, Bednarik is perhaps best known for knocking Frank Gifford of the New York Giants out of football for over eighteen months, with one of the most famous tackles in NFL history in 1960. Bednarik had a famous quarrel with Chuck Noll, who once, as a player for the Cleveland Browns, smashed him in the face during a fourth-down punting play.

Bednarik proved extremely durable, missing just three games in his fourteen seasons. He was named All-Pro eight times, and was the last of the NFL's "Sixty-Minute Men," players who played both offense and defense on a regular basis.

Bednarik's nickname, "Concrete Charlie," originated from his off-season career as a concrete salesman for the Warner Company, not (contrary to popular belief) from his reputation as a ferocious tackler. Nonetheless, sportswriter Hugh Brown of The Bulletin in Philadelphia, credited with bestowing the nickname, remarked that Bednarik "is as hard as the concrete he sells."

In 1999, he was ranked number 54 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. This made him the highest-ranking player to have spent his entire career with the Eagles, the highest-ranking offensive center and the eighth-ranked linebacker in all of professional football.

Opinions on current NFL players

Bednarik has been an outspoken, even bitter critic of today's NFL players for playing on only one side of the ball, calling them "pussyfoots", noting that they "suck air after five plays" and that they "couldn't tackle my wife Emma". He even criticized Troy Brown of the New England Patriots and Deion Sanders of the Dallas Cowboys, two players who also have played both offense and defense, because their positions as a wide receiver and cornerback didn't require as much contact as the center and linebacker positions that Bednarik played.

Relationship with the Eagles

Bednarik's former Eagles number, 60, has been retired by the Eagles in honor of his achievements with the team and is one of only seven numbers retired in the history of the franchise.

When the Eagles established their Honor Roll in 1987, Bednarik was one of the first class of inductees. He attended reunions for the 25th anniversary of the 1960 NFL Championship team in 1985 and the 40th anniversary of the 1948-49 NFL Championship team in 1988 (though he had not played for the 1948 team), held in pregame ceremonies at Veterans Stadium.

Bednarik feuded with current Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie in 1996 because he refused to buy 100 copies of Bednarik's new book for $15 each for the entire team, as that was against NFL rules, and that grudge carried over into the Eagles' most recent Super Bowl appearance in 2005, when he openly rooted against his former team. He has been a consistent critic of several league issues, including his pension, today's salaries, and one-way players.

During Eagles training camp in the summer of 2006, Bednarik and the Eagles reconciled, seemingly ending the feud between Bednarik and Lurie. However, at the same time, Bednarik made disparaging remarks regarding Reggie White[1], an Eagle fan favorite, leading to a somewhat lukewarm reception of the reconciliation by Eagles' fans. However, in the August 4 edition of Allentown's Morning Call newspaper, it was reported that Bednarik apologized, stating he had been confused, and meant to make the statement about former Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens[2].

See also

  • Chuck Bednarik Award (awarded annually in Bednarik's honor to the Best Collegiate Defensive Player.)

External links

Notes








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