If you are an Eagles fan, you probably know who Concrete Charlie is. Today, if you don’t know him, it is a great day to get to know who he was. Charlie “Chuck” Bednarik is one of the greatest two-way players of all time. Back in the day, some players played on both sides of the ball for all 60 minutes. Few did it as Chuck could, and no one will do it again. What made him so special, though?
Chuck Bednarik was born on May 1, 1925, just five years after his parents settled in America from Eastern Slovakia. Bednarik began his football life in Bethlehem, where he played for the Liberty High School. Upon his graduation, he joined the United States Army Air Forces. Chuck served as a B-24 gunner, flying on 30 combat missions over Germany in World War II. Chuck was highly decorated upon his departure from his Military Service. Earning the Air Medal, four Oak Leaf Clusters, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and four Battle Stars.
Following his service time, Chuck attended the University of Pennsylvania. Known as a 60-minute man at Penn, Chuck stared as a linebacker and a center. During his time at Penn, Chuck was a three-time All-American, finished top 10 in the Heisman voting twice, including 3rd in 1948, and won the Maxwell Award the same year. Chuck is an elected member of the College Football Hall Of Fame and was voted as the “Greatest Center of All Time” in 1969. Bednarik is the only Ivy Leaguer ever drafted number 1 overall.
Being the number 1 pick in the NFL Draft has always held you to high standards. Chuck never disappointed in his professional career. Drafted 1st in the 1949 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, Chuck Bednarik played in 169 games. Throughout his entire career, he only missed three total games and was a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball. Just as he did in college, Chuck played both Center and Linebacker full time for the Eagles. He was the NFL’s last full-time 60-minute man, and he is the architect of some of the best plays in Eagles history. Bednarik has one of the most memorable hits in NFL history over New York Giants player, Frank Gilford. Gifford would go on to miss the next 18 months of football.
Bednarik was also a part of two Eagles championship teams in 1949 and 1960. In 1960, Bednarik made the game-saving tackle, taking down Green Bay’s Jim Taylor at the Eagles 8-yard line and staying on top of him for the remaining seconds of the game. Chuck played 58 and a half minutes in the game. This would be the last Eagles championship until Nick Foles infamously defeated the Tom Brady led Patriots in Super Bowl LII.Where did “Concrete Charlie” come from? According to Sports Illustrated, Concrete Charlie stemmed from his time as a Concrete Salesman in his off-seasons with The Warner Company. Contrary to popular belief that it originated from his ferocity on the football field. Chuck was a salesman for twenty years. Concrete Charlie stuck as a nickname over his entire career.
While being one of the most feared tacklers in NFL history, Chuck was also never shy to speak his mind. Charlie’s wife Emma once said, “If you want to know what’s on Chuck’s mind, you don’t have to ask. You usually don’t even have to wait 10 seconds.” He was very outspoken about his jealousy over players being “overpaid and under-played” in today’s NFL. He never earned more than 27,000 dollars in a single season. Chuck was also outspoken about Deion Sanders being a “fake two-way player.” He didn’t have to deal with the physicality that Chuck did.
Chuck also had a brief spat with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, actively rooting against the Eagles in their first Super Bowl against New England. All because Lurie wouldn’t buy 100 books of Chuck’s for 15$ a book. Bednarik and the Eagles would make up in the following offseason. Bednarik is one of the greatest players in Philadelphia Eagles history. On March 21, 2015, Charlie ‘Chuck” Bednarik passed away from Alzheimer’s. Concrete Charlie was the last of the 60-minute men, and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest players in NFL history. Bednarik was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 1967. If you still want to learn more about the man he was, please watch the below video. Thank you for your service, Chuck, both on and off the field.