[May 5, 2020] There are a lot of Philadelphia Eagle fans who live all around me. Since our town is only one hour from Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, the allegiance to a great football team is to be expected. One of their tough guy players from the 1950s and 60s, Chuck Bednarik, holds special attention as one of the most aggressive football players in American NFL history.
The called him “Concrete Charlie” for a reason. Chuck Bednarik was the last two-way player in the NFL, also known as the 60 minute man. American football is made up of four 15-minute quarters. Being a 60 minute man meant you played the entire game. Bednarik played Center on offense, Middle Linebacker on defense, and in the trenches on special teams (before they were called special teams).
“Chuck Bednarik is the epitome of what it means to be a football player. He will probably go done in history as one of the toughest individuals ever to play football.” – Frank Kush, Arizona State Head Coach 1958-1979
In an era defined by physical play and a lack of rules to protect players, Bednarik missed just three games in 14 seasons. On his plaque in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it says he was a “rugged, durable, bulldozing blocker” and a “bone-jarring tackler.” Today, we would call him an iron man, being upfront where the action is and where the hitting is constant.
Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1925, like many of his generation, Bednarik enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps to fight in World War II soon after his graduation from High School. A waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator, long-range heavy bomber, he completed 30 missions over Europe.
The Philadelphia Eagles football team plays a rough and tumble, gritty style of play. They are known for their down-to-earth approach to winning games. Recall that one of American’s most intrinsic core values is respect for strength and winning.1 That is why we love sports because both these values are at play. Men like Bednarik embody those values and is why he was such a perfect fit for the Eagles.
He was, indeed, a tough guy. Bednarik is the type of man that Americans love to love. And this means that we still admire those who show strength in the face of adversity and are winners.