Most younger fans are not aware of who Chuck Bednarik was. Bednarik, who passed away at age 89 on Saturday, is one of the greatest football players to ever line up; on both sides of the ball. The last of the 60-minute men, Bednarik was a credit to the National Football League at both center and linebacker.
Bednarik made 10 All-Pro teams, eight Pro Bowls, was a two-time NFL champion, a member of both the NFL’s 50th Anniversary and 75th Anniversary Teams, and a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 1967. Bednarik was known as one of the toughest men to ever come down the pike, something he was fiercely proud of until his death.
The man known as Concrete Charlie was part of the Greatest Generation, a first lieutenant serving from 1942-46 in the United States Army Air Force, flying 30 combat missions over Nazi Germany.
In 14 seasons, Bednarik only missed three games. Bednarik was best known for his crushing tackles, the most famous being his hit on New York Giants halfback Frank Gifford which left the star concussed and unconscious on the field. Gifford missed the remainder of the 1960 season and all of the 1961 campaign before returning for three more seasons.
Without question, the NFL will never see the likes of Bednarik again. Retiring after winning his second championship in 1960 – a win over Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers – Bednarik took with him the two-way player. Something once common over the first 35 years of the league, Bednarik was the final player to battle without break. He was a tough guy during an age full of tough guys. He was a winner in the greatest sense of the word, a man of country and deed.
Rest in peace, Chuck.