Chuck Bednarik

Posted: August 12, 2007

3 Chuck Bednarik. In 1960, plenty of players in the NFL might have thought they could play both ways, but one did, and excelled. Chuck Bednarik was the last iron man of pro football.

When linebacker Bob Pellegrini pulled a groin muscle against Cleveland in the fifth game of the season, coach Buck Shaw looked at the 35-year-old Bednarik and said, "Get in there, Chuck, but don't pull any hero stuff."

Because he played both ways to help lead the Eagles to the 1960 world championship - the franchise's last - Bednarik solidified his spot among the greatest Eagles of all time.

Several weeks after the Cleveland game, the Eagles were clinging to a 17-10 lead over the defending Eastern Conference champion New York Giants when Giants quarterback George Shaw hit Frank Gifford cutting across the middle. Bednarik was closing on Gifford, as was safety Don Burroughs. Gifford momentarily looked away from Bednarik.

Moving at full speed, Bednarik pummeled Gifford, catching him under the chin with his shoulder. Despite cries to the contrary, the hit was clean. Gifford fumbled, and as the Eagles' Chuck Weber recovered, Bednarik stood over Gifford's limp body and shouted, "The game's over. We got the ball."

Gifford was hospitalized with a concussion and did not play again until 1962.

"I didn't even know Gifford had not gotten up at the time," Bednarik told The Inquirer the next day. "I'm emotional. I knew we had the game won, because we had the ball. That's why I was jumping around."

In the championship game against Green Bay, Bednarik played every second of offense and defense. He hit Paul Hornung so hard that he pinched a nerve in Hornung's shoulder. On the final play of the game, Bednarik smothered fullback Jim Taylor, who was barreling toward the end zone, inside the Eagles' 10-yard line to preserve a 17-13 victory.

"I couldn't have played another minute," Bednarik later told the Saturday Evening Post.

In all, "Concrete Charlie" played in 169 of a possible 172 games in 14 years with the Eagles. The Bethlehem, Pa., native and former Penn all-American went to an Eagles record eight Pro Bowls, and in 1967 was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

- Ashley Fox

 


 

Chuck Bednarik

Number (retired by Eagles): 60

Eagles Honor Roll Inductee: 1987

Positions: Linebacker, center

College: Penn

With Eagles: 1949-62

NFL Championships: He played every minute of offense and defense (581/2 minutes total) in the Eagles' win over Green Bay in 1960. He also helped the Birds shut out the Rams in the 1949 title game.

Records: The No. 1 overall draft pick in 1949, he played in 180 games over 14 seasons, and went to a team record eight Pro Bowls.

Hall of Fame: 1967


 

I'm no superman. If I can play offense and defense, so can other professionals. Playing both ways is as much a mental strain as a physical strain. Once you think you can do it, you can.

Chuck Bednarik, Nov. 25, 1961,

Saturday Evening Post

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