STEVE VAN BUREN

STEVE VAN BUREN

Class of 1965
Halfback >>> 6-0, 200
(Louisiana State)
1944-1951 Philadelphia Eagles

Stephen Wood Van Buren  ...  No. 1 draft pick, 1944 ... All-NFL six straight years  ...  Provided Eagles a battering-ram punch ...  Won NFL rushing title four times  ...  1944 punt return, 1945 kickoff return champ  ...  Scored only TD in 7-0 title win, 1948  ...  Rushed for then-record 196 yards in 1949 finale  ...  Career mark: 5860 yards rushing, 464 points scored. . .Surpassed 1,000 yards in rushing twice  ...  Born December 28, 1920, in La Ceiba, Honduras  ... Died August 23, 2012, at age of 91.

Steve Van Buren answered to a lot of names during his eight-year career in the National Football League, "Wham Bam,” "Supersonic Steve," "Blockbuster," and several more. Translated, they all meant he was an exceptional football player.

To be sure, Steve's pro career was distinctive. He surpassed 1,000 yards rushing twice, won four NFL rushing titles and a rare “triple crown” in 1945 when he led in rushing, scoring, and kickoff returns. He was a first-team All-NFL selection each of his first six seasons. Van Buren lined up as a halfback but played more like a fullback as the battering ram of a powerful Eagles squad that dominated the NFL in the late 1940s.

Philadelphia had never finished above fourth place until Steve came on the scene in 1944. That year they finished second, were runners-up two more years, won three straight divisional titles, and the NFL title in 1948 and 1949.

Van Buren provided the offensive punch in both championship victories. In 1949 title game against the Los Angeles Rams, Steve carried 31 times for a record 196 yards as the Eagles won 14-0. A year earlier, Van Buren rushed for 98 yards and scored the game's only touchdown in the Eagles 7-0 title win over the Chicago Cardinals.

Born in Honduras, Van Buren was orphaned when he was very young and sent to New Orleans to live with his grandparents. He failed to make the high school football team as a 125-pound high school sophomore, but as a senior he played well enough to win a scholarship to LSU. In his senior season, Van Buren rushed for 832 yards. Encouraged by LSU coach Bernie Moore, the Eagles selected him as their top pick in the draft. It was a break for Van Buren and, for the Eagles, possibly their most fortunate ever.

Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1944 Philadelphia
9
80
444
5.6
5
0
0
0.0
0
1945 Philadelphia
10
143
832
5.8
15
10
123
12.3
2
1946 Philadelphia
9
116
529
4.6
5
6
75
12.5
0
1947 Philadelphia
12
217
1008
4.6
13
9
79
8.8
0
1948 Philadelphia
11
201
945
4.7
10
10
96
9.6
0
1949 Philadelphia
12
263
1146
4.4
11
4
88
22.0
1
1950 Philadelphia
10
188
629
3.3
4
2
34
17.0
0
1951 Philadelphia
10
112
327
2.9
6
4
28
7.0
0
Career Total
83
1320
5860
4.4
69
45
523
11.6
3
 
       
Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
       
1944 Philadelphia
9
8
266
33.3
1
       
1945 Philadelphia
10
13
373
28.7
1
       
1946 Philadelphia
9
11
319
29.0
0
       
1947 Philadelphia
12
13
382
29.4
1
       
1948 Philadelphia
11
14
292
20.9
0
       
1949 Philadelphia
12
12
288
24.0
0
       
1950 Philadelphia
10
5
110
22.0
0
       
1951 Philadelphia
10
0
0
0.0
0
       
Career Total
83
76
2030
26.7
3
       
Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 3-1-35; Punt Returns: 34-473, 2 TD; Interceptions: 9-81; Punting: 2-76; 77 TDs, 2-2 XP

Championship Games

1947 NFL – Chicago Cardinals 28, Philadelphia Eagles 21
Van Buren started at left halfback. He carried the ball 18 times for 26 yards and one touchdown.

1948 NFLPhiladelphia Eagles 7, Chicago Cardinals 0
Van Buren did not start, but saw considerable playing time at left halfback. He carried the ball 26 times for 98 yards and one touchdown.

1949 NFLPhiladelphia Eagles 14, Los Angeles Rams 0
Van Buren started at left halfback. He had 31 carries for 196 yards.

All-NFL: 1944 (AP) • 1945 (AP, UPI, IN, NY, PF, HA) • 1946 (NY) • 1947 (UPI, NY PF) • 1948 (UPI, IN, NY, PF) • 1949 (UPI, NY)

All-NFL Second Team: 1944 (UPI, NY) • 1946 (UPI, PF) • 1950 (UPI, NY)

All-Pro: 1947 (AP) • 1948 (AP, SN) • 1949 (AP, IN)

None (note: the Pro Bowl was not played from 1943-1950.)

(at time of his retirement following 1951 season)

• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 1,320
• [1st] Most Rushing Yards, Career – 5,860
• [1st] Most Rushing Yards, Season – 1,146 (1949)
• [1st] Most Touchdowns, Season – 18 (1945)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 263 (1949)
• [2nd] Most Touchdowns, Career – 77
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 35 (vs. N.Y. Bulldogs, Nov. 20, 1949)

Eagles' records held by Van Buren
(Records through the 1951 season, Van Buren's last season with Philadelphia)

• [1st] Most Rushing Yards, Season – 1,146 (1949)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 263 (1949)
• [1st] Most Touchdowns, Season – 18 (1945)
• [1st] Most Points Scored, Season – 110 (1945)
• [1st] Most Rushing Yards, Game – 205 (vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 27, 1949)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 35 (vs. N.Y. Bulldogs, Nov. 20, 1949)
• [1st] Most Rushing Yards, Career – 5,860
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 1,320
• [1st] Most Touchdowns, Career – 77
• [1st] Most Points, Career – 464
• [Tied for 1st] Most Kickoff Returns, Season – 14 (1948)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Yards, Season – 1,008 (1947)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 217 (1947)
• [2nd] Most Kickoff Returns, Season – 13 (1947)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Yards, Game – 174 (vs. N.Y. Bulldogs, Nov. 20, 1949)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 29 (vs. Washington, Nov. 21. 1948)
• [2nd] Longest Run From Scrimmage – 77 (vs. Brooklyn, Nov. 4, 1944)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Touchdowns, Game – 3 (vs. Boston, Dec. 9, 1945)
• [3rd] Most Passes Intercepted, Season – 5 (1944)
• [3rd] Longest Run From Scrimmage – 77 (vs. Oct. 14, 1944)
• [3rd] Longest Kickoff Return – 98 (vs. New York, Dec. 2, 1945)

League Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949
Scoring Titles: 1945
Punt Return Titles: 1944
Kickoff Return Titles: 1945
Touchdown Titles: 1945, 1947

Team Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949
Scoring Titles: 1945, 1947, 1949
Punt Return Titles: 1944, 1945
Kickoff Return Titles: 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949
Touchdown Titles: 1945, 1946, 1947, 1949

• 1940s All-Decade Team
• 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
• 75th Anniversary All-Two-Way Team

Year Team W T L Division Finish
1944 Philadelphia Eagles 7 1 2 (2nd)
1945 Philadelphia Eagles 7 3 0 (2nd)
1946 Philadelphia Eagles 6 5 1 (2nd)
1947 Philadelphia Eagles 8 4 0 (1st)
1948 Philadelphia Eagles 9 2 1 (1st)
1949 Philadelphia Eagles 11 1 0 (1st)
1950 Philadelphia Eagles 6 6 0 (3rd)
1951 Philadelphia Eagles 4 8 0 (5th)

Full Name: Stephen W. Van Buren

Birthdate: December 28, 1920

Birthplace: La Celba, Honduras

Died: August 23, 2012

High School: Warren Easton (New Orleans, LA)

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: September 12, 1965

Other Members of Class of 1965: Guy Chamberlin, Paddy Driscoll, Dan Fortmann, Otto Graham, Sid Luckman, Bob Waterfield

Pro Career: 8 seasons, 83 games

Drafted: 1st round (5th overall) in 1944 by Philadelphia Eagles

Uniform Number: 15

Fawcett Stadium
Sept. 12, 1965

 
Clarke Hinkle (presenter): 
To sports fans everywhere I present Steve Van Buren of the Philadelphia Eagles who not only broke my ball carrying record, but he broke the hearts and bones of National Football League opponents from the years 1944 through 1951. He was five times All-Pro halfback, he lead the league in ground gaining four out of five season, he was the first player to lead the league three years in a row in ground gaining. He led the Philadelphia Eagles to three Eastern titles and two World Championships. Welcome abroad to the house of Dick McCann’s house of heroes, Steve Van Buren.
 
Steve Van Buren
Thank you Clarke Hinkle, I’m certainly glad to have broken your record.  Since you people can’t hear too good and I’m not too good a speaker I won’t say much, but it’s a great honor to be here. The two days I’ve spent in Canton will certainly bring me back every year from now on.  Thank you very much.
 

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