Saturday, March 21, 2015

Eagles Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik Passes Away at 89

LOOKING BACK
By John Turney
Bednarik, Colorization by John Turney
Philadelphia Eagles great Chuck Bednarik passed away Saturday morning following a brief illness at an assisted living facility in Richland, Pennsylvania, the team announced. He was 89.

His nickname was “Concrete Charlie” and the Eagles and their fans will mourn him greatly. "With the passing of Chuck Bednarik, the Eagles and our fans have lost a legend," Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said via the team's press release. 

Bednarik, a Slovak American from the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, Bednarik played in the NFL from 1949 through 1962 and, upon retirement, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

Bednarik served in the Army Air Corps, earning an Air Medal as a B-24 waist gunner in World War II. After he left the military, Bednarik attended the University of Pennsylvania, where was a two-time All-American, and was elected a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. It was at Penn where he earned his early accolades as a 60-minute man, excelling as both center and linebacker, as well as occasionally as a punter. 

He was noted as an All-Pro linebacker and center, and on occasion played both positions in the same game, though the reports of how often he did that are slight exaggerated at time, but he did play 58 minutes, and made a game-saving tackle, 1960 NFL title game. He was noted for a hard, but legal, hit on the Giant halfback Frank Gifford, which caused Gifford to be carried from the field on a stretcher and he took a significant amount of time recovering before he could return to the NFL, this time as a flanker.
Bednarik's hit on Giffold. Colorization by John Turney
With the Eagles, Bednarik was voted to eight Pro Bowls (five as a center and three as a linebacker). He was also a nine-time First-team All-Pro (1950-57, and 1960). He was a Second-team All-Pro selection in 1961.

He also received these honors:
1950s All-Decade Team, Center
NFL 50th Anniversary Team, Center
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Two-Way Team

Bednarik's former Eagles number, 60, was retired by the Eagles and he was an original inductee for the Eagles Honor Roll in 1987.

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