March 21, 2015
Former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Chuck Bednarik died Saturday morning at the age of 89. According to the team, Badnarik passed away due to an illness while in an assisted living facility in Richland, Pa.
Team owner Jeffrey Lurie mourned the passing of the team legend in a statement:
“With the passing of Chuck Bednarik, the Eagles and our fans have lost a legend. Philadelphia fans grow up expecting toughness, all-out effort and a workmanlike attitude from this team and so much of that image has its roots in the way Chuck played the game. He was a Hall of Famer, a champion and an all-time Eagle. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this time.”
Many writers and players, current and former, have already taken to remembering his legacy.
Bill Lyon of Philly.com noted Bednarik's patented toughness in a column Saturday morning:
Chuck Bednarik was the pure essence of football. He played a violent game with a smoldering and undisguised lust for that very violence.
Writer Jason Wolf tweeted this quote from former Eagles player Tom Brookshier regarding Bednarik's style of play:
“Dick Butkus was the 1 who manhandled people,” fmr #Eagles DB Tom Brookshier said. “Chuck [Bednarik] just snapped them down like rag dolls.”— Jason Wolf (@JasonWolf) March 21, 2015
Sports writer for The Nation David Zirin sent out this picture of Bednarik:
Chuck Bednarik, NFL legend, dead at 89. Was never shy about showing what the sport did to his fingers. pic.twitter.com/gZqDTv9aHF— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) March 21, 2015
Several current and former Eagles players tweeted their condolences as well:
Chuck Bednarik RIP .what a great inspiration to everyone who loves the game of football. Thanks for all the great memories ! Love ya man!— Ron Jaworski (@jawsespn) March 21, 2015
Bednarik, nicknamed "Concrete Charlie," helped carry the Eagles to their last NFL championship in 1960, playing both center and linebacker in a 17-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers. His number 60 is retired with the team, and he currently still holds the record for most seasons played with the Eagles, as he spent all 14 in Philadelphia (1949-1962). He also won a championship with the team in 1949.
Many fans remember Bednarik for his famous hit on New York Giants running back Frank Gifford during the 1960 season, a crucial play that not only sealed the game against the rival Giants, but also knocked Gifford out of the game for nearly two seasons due to the concussions he suffered from the tackle:
A Bethlehem, Pa. native, Bednarik played football at the University of Pennsylvania. The Chuck Bednarik Award is handed out each year in his honor to the best defensive player in college football. Bednarik served 30 missions in World War II as a gunner for the Army Air Corps. His service earned him the Air Medal, according to his Hall of Fame bio. Bednarik is survived by his wife Emma and his five daughters, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.