Chuck “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik, legendary figure in Philadelphia sports history died yesterday at the age of 89 after a short illness.
Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 years, Bednarik was the last of the “two-way players”, on the field for both offense and defense and routinely playing 55-58 minutes in a 60 minute game.
That kind of playing time is unheard of now in a sport where hard hitting is no longer the backbone of a game built on speed and athletic ability.
Bednarik’s life – football aside – was a microcosm of The Greatest Generation.
- Born in Bethlehem, PA, Bednarik spent his entire life living in Pennsylvania.
- Joined the Army Air Corp right out of high school with World War II in full swing. Flew 30 bombing missions over Germany as a waist gunner in the B-24.
- All-American footballer at the University of Pennsylvania where he played linebacker, center and also punted. (In 1947, Bednarik’s junior year, Penn was ranked #7 in the nation.)
- Philadelphia Eagles signed him for a $3000 bonus, $10,000 salary. He never made more than $27,000 a season!
Bednarik was an outspoken critic of the modern football player in his later years, bemoaning the end of the two-way player, then laughing at the likes of Deion Sanders when he decided to play “two-way football” at the cornerback/wide receiver positions.
They don’t make them like that anymore.