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NFL – Special – The Men Who Played The Game – Philadelphia Eagles Chuck Bedinarik


Charles Philip Bednarik (May 1, 1925 – March 21, 2015) was nicknamed Concrete Charlie….as he was a professional American football player….who was known as one of the most devastating tacklers in the history of football….and the last full-time two-way player in the National Football League. A Slovak American from the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania….Bednarik played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 through 1962….and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967….his first year of eligibility.

His parents emigrated in 1920 from Široké….a village in eastern Slovakia for work,,,,while settling in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and working for Bethlehem Steel. Their son Charles was born in 1925…who attended school at SS. Cyril & Methodius in Bethlehem….which was a Slovak parochial school with Slovak the language of instruction. Bednarik began playing football in Bethlehem….where he played for Bethlehem’s Liberty High School.  Following his graduation from high school….he entered the United States Army Air Forces and served as a B-24 waist-gunner with the Eighth Air Force….where he flew on 30 combat missions over Germany….for which he was awarded the Air Medal and four Oak Leaf Clusters, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and four Battle Stars.

Bednarik subsequently attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia….where he was a 60-minute man by excelling as both center and linebacker….as well as an occasional punter….where he was a three-time All-American and was elected a member of the College Football Hall of Fame….as were two of his teammates on the 1947 squad….tackle George Savitsky and tailback Tony Minisi….along with their coach, George Munger. At Penn, he also was third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1948 and won the Maxwell Award for tiop lineman that year. In 1969 he was voted by a panel of sportswriters, coaches and hall of fame players as “The Greatest Center of All-Time.

Bednarik was the first player drafted in the 1949 NFL Draft, by the Philadelphia Eagles….starring on both offense as a center and on defense as a linebacker. He was a member of the Eagles’ NFL Championship teams in 1949 and 1960. In the 1960 NFL Championship Game….Bednarikwas the last Eagle between Green Bay’s FB Jim Taylor and the end zone…when he tackled Taylor on the final play of the game at the Eagles’ eight yard line….remaining atop Taylor as the final seconds ticked off the clock….thus ensuring the Packers could not run another play and preserving a 17–13 Eagles victory.

In 1960, Bednarik knocked Frank Gifford of the New York Giants out of football for over 18 months with one of the most famous tackles in NFL history.  Bednarik had a famous quarrel with Chuck Noll, who once, as a player for the Cleveland Browns, smashed him in the face during a fourth-down punting play.  Bednarik proved extremely durable throughout his career….missing just three games in his 14 seasons. He was named All-Pro eight times….and was the last of the NFL’s “Sixty-Minute Men,”….those players who played both offense and defense on a regular basis.

Bednarik’s nickname, “Concrete Charlie,” originated from his off-season career as a concrete salesman for the Warner Company….which was not contrary to popular belief from his reputation as a ferocious tackler. Nonetheless, sportswriter Hugh Brown of The Evening Bulletin in Philadelphia was credited with bestowing the nickname when he remarked that Bednarik “is as hard as the concrete he sells.”.  After a spectacular career….Bednarik served as an analyst on the HBO program Inside The NFL for its inaugural season in 1977–78…..and in 1999, he was ranked number 54 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. This made him the highest-ranking player to have spent his entire career with the Eagles, the highest-ranking offensive center and the eighth-ranked linebacker in all of professional football.  In 2010, Bednarik was ranked number 35 on the NFL Network’s “The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players”….and ranked one spot ahead of Bednarik at #34 was Deion Sanders….a player for whom Bednarik has held open contempt in regards to being a two-way player….and Bednarik was not the highest placed Eagle on the NFL Network’s list….as that distinction was held by Reggie White at number 7.

Bednarik was an outspoken, even bitter critic of modern NFL players for playing on only one side of the ball…. calling them “pussyfoots”….noting that they “suck air after five plays” and that they “couldn’t tackle my wife Emma”. He even criticized Troy Brown of the New England Patriots and Deion Sanders of the Dallas Cowboys, two players who also have played both offense and defense….cuz their positions as a wide receiver and cornerback didn’t require as much contact as the center and linebacker positions that Bednarik played.

Any way you cut the pie….Chuck Bednarik was one of a rare breed of NFL players who deserves this vidoe highlight of his remarkable career.

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