August 18, 2015
ISSUE | OVERSIGHT Libertarian la-la land It's always distressing to read trade analysis from any of the idealists who toil for the Cato Institute ("Tariffs key to successfully negotiating trade deals," Wednesday). To be a member of the clique, one must worship the mythical "free market. " For trade oversight, I'll stick with something I have some say over, Congress, and Cato's Simon Lester can trust the World Trade Organization, a multinational entity whose interest in doing what's right for the American people is suspect.
August 13, 2015 |
The most famous photograph in football history always had a story behind it. Before he died in March at 89, Chuck Bednarik loved to autograph copies of the photograph and tell the story, and before he died Sunday at 84, Frank Gifford used to flinch whenever he saw the photograph or heard the story. The photograph was taken by Sports Illustrated's John G. Zimmerman on Nov. 20, 1960, during the Eagles' 17-10 victory over the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium, and the image is eternal and visceral and stark in black-and-white: Bednarik standing erect and godlike, his right arm raised as if he is about to plunge a wooden stake into a vampire's heart, looming over Gifford's supine body.
August 11, 2015
WHEN NEWS BROKE that Frank Gifford had died yesterday at the age of 84, my friend Paul posted this on my Facebook page: "Frank better ask St. Peter to tell him where Concrete Charlie is hanging out, so he can steer clear. " That is how every Philadelphian who cares about football, and appreciates history, thinks about the man who participated, wholly against his will, in the most iconic gridiron photograph of all time. Paul is a Delco boy transplanted to Tennessee but green blood will tell: For us, Gifford exists as one of two men frozen in time and symbolic of the brutal warrior dance that football used to be. Of course, there was an awful lot more to the man's life than an unfortunate brush with Chuck Bednarik's cosmic greatness.
March 28, 2015 |
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Despite a gray mist that clung to this city like grief, the South Bethlehem neighborhood where Chuck Bednarik grew up was visible from the second floor of Connell's Funeral Home on Thursday. Across a roiling Lehigh River, so too were the now-dormant smokestacks of the Bethlehem Steel foundry where the late Eagles legend's Slovak-born father had earned a hard living. Bethlehem said goodbye to Bednarik with a lengthy public viewing, a civic event that pointed out how much, at the end, Bednarik had in common with his faded industrial hometown.
March 24, 2015 |
I WAS 4 YEARS OLD and living in Virginia when the Eagles won the 1960 NFL championship, so I don't have any great memories of watching Chuck Bednarik play, as a center or a linebacker. But I do have a favorite Bednarik moment. It happened during the 50th anniversary celebration of that 1960 title. The team was hosting a dinner for the surviving vets, at the Linc. There was a red carpet outside, and players would emerge from cars to be greeted there by, among others, Swoop, the feathered mascot.
March 24, 2015
ANYONE WHO grew up in the Philadelphia area, no matter when you happened to be born, knows about "the hit. " If you need additional explanation, you must be a newcomer (either that, or you watch the "Godfather" trilogy on a loop). "The hit," the only one truly worth talking about in mythic terms, is the one that Chuck Bednarik put on Frank Gifford in the game between the Eagles and the Giants at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 20, 1960. I was born a year and two weeks later. Yet although biology insists that I wasn't even conceived at the time when Gifford was impersonating a log, I feel that moment as if I'd watched it in real time.
March 23, 2015 |
Most of the 68,000-plus fans who cram into Lincoln Financial Field on a given Sunday during the NFL season are too young to have any recollection of Chuck Bednarik's decorated playing career. They know, however, who he is, what he did, and what he meant to the Eagles. Is that not the ultimate sign of greatness? How many living athletes in this or any other city will be able to say that more than 50 years after their careers ended they were still remembered and revered? Here's a hint: You can cut off some fingers and still count the ones in Philadelphia.
March 23, 2015 |
Chuck Bednarik, the immovable, irascible son of a Bethlehem steelworker whose Hall of Fame football career was more notable for lasts than firsts, died Saturday morning following a brief illness. His family said Mr. Bednarik, 89, died in a Bucks County assisted-living facility. Perhaps the greatest player in the long histories of both the University of Pennsylvania and the Eagles, Mr. Bednarik starred on the last Penn teams to aspire to national prominence; was a veteran leader on the last Eagles team to win an NFL championship; and, most famously, was the last of the NFL's "60-minute men. " "With the passing of Chuck Bednarik, the Eagles and our fans have lost a legend," Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement.
September 1, 2014 |
For many fans, the replica NFL jerseys they've been purchasing in ever-growing numbers since the 1990s are religious vestments. Donned with faith on Sundays, imbued with spiritual significance, their unique color and design reveal their wearers' sectarian leanings, their communion with fellow believers. Alter these sacred garments and you risk being tarred as a heretic. If Eagles supporters needed a reason to dislike Jeffrey Lurie - and this being Philadelphia, antipathy toward ownership is as natural a state as low expectations - he provided them with a solid one not long after purchasing the team in 1994.
August 12, 2014
THERE WAS no artificial turf or an inflatable plastic Eagles head for the players to run through onto the field, when the Birds won the 1960 NFL championship at Franklin Field, their home from 1958-70. But despite those differences, the bricks and concrete were the same yesterday, as the Eagles held their final public training-camp practice in front of a crowd of about 28,000 people, in the oldest stadium still being used for NCAA football, built on the Penn campus in 1895. Legends from the past were honored, and attendees included Chuck Bednarik, Pete Retzlaff and Jeremiah Trotter, among more than 30 others.