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Steve Van Buren
Jersey #(s)
Born December 28, 1920 (1920-12-28) (age 89)
La Ceiba, Honduras
Career information
Year(s) 19441951
NFL Draft 1944 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
College Louisiana State
Professional teams
Career stats
Rushing yards 5,860
Average 4.4
Rushing Touchdowns 69
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

Stephen W. Van Buren (born December 28, 1920 in La Ceiba, Honduras) is a former professional American football player who played for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League from 1944-1951, and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Early life

Van Buren began life in Honduras, but after he was orphaned as a boy, he was sent to live with relatives in New Orleans. From Easton High School in New Orleans, he received an athletic scholarship to Louisiana State University, where he led the nation in points (110) and touchdowns (16) as a senior.

Professional career

A first-round draft pick in the 1944 NFL Draft, Van Buren ran for 444 yards in nine games during his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also led the league in returning punts as a rookie. The following season, Van Buren led the NFL in rushing for the first time. He would win three additional rushing crowns 1947,1948,1949, becoming the first running back in NFL history to achieve three consecutive rushing titles. Jim Brown (1957-1961, 1963-1965) twice, Earl Campbell (1978-1980), and Emmitt Smith (1991-1993) are the other three. As soon as Emmitt Smith gets elected in his first year of eligibility (2010) all four will be in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

1948 NFL Championship game

Van Buren's signature game came on December 26, 1948. Playing in a blizzard for the NFL Championship against the Chicago Cardinals, Van Buren scored the only touchdown of the game to give the Eagles their first league title. They would win their second crown a year later against the Rams. In that game, Van Buren set a league record with 196 yards rushing.

The greatest irony was that Van Buren almost missed the game. Thinking the game wouldn't be played in the blizzard, he remained home until Eagles coach Earle "Greasy" Neale called him and told him the game was still on. He had to catch 3 trolleys and walk 12 blocks in order to make the game on time.


After a knee injury before the 1952 season, Van Buren retired as league record holder for rushing yards (5860) and rushing touchdowns (69). He also scored three times returning kickoffs, three times on receptions, and twice on punt returns for a total of 77 touchdowns. He was also the first running back to pass 1000 yards in a season twice. A fast, powerful back, he stood 6-1 and weighed 200 pounds, and could run the 100-yard dash in 9.8 seconds.


Steve Van Buren was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 1965. In 1999, he was ranked number 77 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

Personal life

Steve Van Buren lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to this day. His position was a Halfback for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1944 to 1951. He was drafted in Round:1 Number:5.

External links

Preceded by
Clarke Hinkle
NFL Career Rushing Yards Leader
1949 - 1958
Succeeded by
Joe Perry

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