Tough Guy: the Last 60 Minute Man

[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.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

27 thoughts on “Tough Guy: the Last 60 Minute Man

  1. Dennis Mathes

    I’ll raise my hand as a long-time Eagle’s fan. Our neighborhood is full of die-hard fans that watch every game. The challenge for us this season is, of course, the impact of ‘stay at home’ dictates from the governor. Will the games be played without fans in the stadium so we can only watch on tv? Or will we get to attend a few? Watching on the tv is nowhere as great as seeing a game in person. Hope everyone has a safe day.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Me too Dennis. I think we have a new club here in Gen. Satterfield’s forum !

  2. lydia

    Wish I could have found him when I was younger. ?

  3. Autistic Techie

    This is great. I hadn’t known about Concrete Charlie until I read your blog post today, Gen. Satterfield. For those of us looking for heroes, this is the place to find them.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Read more about history. There are lessons there for us all.

  4. Xerxes I

    I just love this guy. 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”. Funny, mean, but true.

  5. Martin Shiell

    For such a respected and ‘great’ man for many reasons, I wonder why his autographed pro football card is selling on eBay for $14 in mint condition. This link may not hold for long but here it is:

    1. Kenny Foster

      Maybe for his ethnic origins and from where he grew up in no-wheres-ville PA. From Wikipedia — A Slovak American from the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, Bednarik played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 through 1962 and, upon retirement, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, his first year of eligibility.

    2. Greg Heyman

      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. Bednarik 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.

      1. Newbie Yunger

        Thanks Greg for some background on Concrete Charlie.

      2. Dead Pool Guy

        The last 60-minute man. Greg, good point and often missed in his background.

  6. Watson Bell

    I grew up in central Pennsylvania and played most sports, including football. This was in the late 1960s and 70s. I can say for sure we knew about Concrete Charlie ‘ Chuck Bednarik’ and admired the man for what he did on the football field and off the field. He was also, in our minds, a war hero. We don’t see professional athletes like him anymore.

    1. Ed Berkmeister

      Hi Watson, I grew up in New Mexico and Texas at the same time, didn’t play any sport, but watched the games on a black and white television set. I was hooked on the game because of men like him. Thanks for the note.

    2. Ruth M. McMasters

      Bednarik’s former Eagles number, 60, has been retired by the Eagles in honor of his achievements with the team and is one of only eight numbers retired in the history of the franchise. I was in a diner last year (ordering a Philly cheesesteak) and saw a picture of Concrete Charlie on the wall. They do respect him in Philly and rightfully so.

      1. Darryl Sitterly

        Talk football to me! That’s what I kept hearing when in Philadelphia. They truly love the sport.

  7. José Luis Rodriguez

    What is interesting is that outside Philly, Chuck Bednarik is not well-known. But inside the City of Brotherly Love, he still holds a special place in the hearts to our city citizens. Not only is this true because of his great play on the field but also because he was not afraid to be part of WW2 in the Army Air Corps.

    1. Tomas Clooney

      Sad but spot on comment about him not being known outside this area. Great man, Chuck was my kind of guy. But he was very very tough, more than most of us would like to admit. He was admitted to the Football Hall of Fame and rightfully so.

  8. Valkerie

    Another great article by General Satterfield. Plus, this is my favorite sports team of all time.

  9. Newbie Yunger

    I’m no Philly Eagles football fan but this is the kind of guy I would like. Too bad that this style of play doesn’t continue to today. This rough and tumble football was why so many fans attended. These men played for the love of the sport and the attention and not for the money grabbers we see so much of today.

    1. Wendy Holmes

      I think the Eagles were probably the last pro team to move away from this style of play. Unfortunately for us but undoubtedly better for the players who are hurt less.

  10. Willie Shrumburger

    Americans love strong men (and occasionally strong women). What we want is someone who is adaptable and flexible to the situation, who can make sense of chaos, and have a good attitude. We follow those kind of people wherever they may go.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      So very true. Physical AND mental strength are part of what we all desire – maybe even secretly but others openly – and there is no substitute for doing so. Those who claim victimhood as many are prone to do today are LOSERS in the most emphatic sense.

    2. Eva Easterbrook

      Good comment, Willie. I agree but will add that this includes all women too.

      1. JT Patterson

        Yes, Eva and as it should. Strength is even valued in the animal kingdom and probably the plant kingdom too. Only the fittest survives to live another day and reproduce. The weak pass away unnoticed.

    3. the ace

      One of our American core values. ‘Nuff said. That is why America is great, not because of whiners or folks on food stamps.

Comments are closed.