Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik passed away early Saturday morning, after a brief illness, in Richland, Pennsylvania. Bednarik played for the Philadelphia Eagles as both a center and linebacker; one of the last players to play both offense and defense. He was known as a legendary football tough guy. He was 89-years-old.
According to MSN, Bednarik was not just a hero on the field. In War World II, he was a gunner on a B-42. When he was with the Army Air Corp, Chuck participated in over 30 combat missions in the airs over Germany. After surviving the war, he came back to the U.S. and started playing football, stating that his new career was “easy.”
Bednarik played for the Eagles from 1949 to 1962. In 14 years, he only missed three games, two of those during his rookie season.
During the off season, Chuck would work as a salesman for a concrete company. His off-season job and his dominance on the field would end up giving him the nickname “Concrete Charlie.” Even at the top of his game, Bednarik never made more than $27,000 in a season.
Bednarik was a football powerhouse. One of his best-known takedowns came on November 20, 1960 when he flattened New York Giants’ halfback Frank Gifford. Chuck blindsided Gifford and left the man unconscious. This hit helped the Eagles win the game.
MSN reports that Bednarik was an important icon for the Philadelphia inhabitants.
“So many of the timeless moments in Eagles history are associated with Chuck Bednarik,” said team president Don Smolenski in a statement. “He played his entire career in Philadelphia, college and pro, and he lived his entire life here and in the Lehigh Valley. He was a proud competitor and a dedicated and devout family man who loved Eagles fans as much as they loved him. He left his mark on this team and will forever be a legend within this organization.”
Jeff Lurie, the current owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, released a statement that Chuck’s influence on the team is still present today.
He said, “Philadelphia fans grow up expecting toughness, all-out effort and a workmanlike attitude from this team and so much of that image has its roots in the way Chuck played the game.”
Bednarik suffered from dementia associated with the head injuries he received while playing football. Chuck left behind his wife, Emma, and his five daughters as well as 10 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Our condolences go out to the family. The legend that is Chuck Bednarik will be missed.
[Photo Courtesy of Jacob Iacono/New York Times]