Hall of Famer , a two-way star of the from 1949 to 1962 passed away on Saturday at the age of 89.
Bednarik is regarded as the National Football League’s last “iron man.” The legendary center and linebacker played 58 minutes of the 1960 NFL Championship game that ended with his game-saving tackle to secure a league title for the Eagles.
His NFL career began when Philadelphia selected him as the first player in the 1949 NFL Draft. Bednarik is one of just 13 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to have been drafted first overall.
Bednarik’s talents on the football field weren’t discovered until after his heroics on the battlefield. A veteran of World War II, Bednarik served as a waist gunner in a B-24 Liberator during a a 30-mission tour over Germany with the Army Air Corps. For his courageous service, Bednarik was awarded the Air Medal and four Oak Leaf Clusters, the European Theater Operations Medal, four Battle Stars, and the Good Conduct Medal. After the war, he quickly gained notice when he earned All-American honors twice as a center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Hall of Fame President David Baker stated, “ was a true hero in every sense of the word. His character, commitment and dedication illustrated in his courageous service to our country in World War II are the same values he used to become one of greatest heroes on the football field. Chuck’s legacy will forever be preserved in Canton and serve as great inspiration for generations.”
His impact on the NFL gridiron was instant. As a rookie, he earned a starting role at center on offense and as a linebacker on defense.
His role as a two-way player took place in a time when that facet of the game had mostly disappeared. He played on both sides of the ball regularly through the 1956 season.
Noted for his strength and durability he excelled as a dominating blocker on offense and devastating and hard-hitting tackler on defense. His famous tackle of Green Bay Packers fullback Jim Taylor just short of the goal line in the closing seconds of the 1960 NFL Championship Game preserved the Eagles’ 17-13 victory.
He was named All-NFL a combined nine times as either a center or linebacker during a career in which he missed just three games in 14 seasons. He was elected to eight Pro Bowls, named the NFL’s all-time center in 1969, and voted to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Two-Way Team in 1994.
Bednarik was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
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