Nick Name: Concrete Charlie
Birthday: May 1, 1925
Died At Age: 89
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Charles Philip Bednarik
Born Country: United States
Born in: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States
Famous as: American Football Player
American Football Players
Height: 6'3" (190 cm), 6'3" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Emma Bednarik
children: Carol Safarowic, Charlene Thomas, Donna Davis, Jackie Chelius, Pam McWilliams
Died on: March 21, 2015
place of death: Richland, Pennsylvania, United States
U.S. State: Pennsylvania
Cause of Death: Alzheimer
education: University of Pennsylvania
Who was Chuck Bednarik?
Chuck Bednarik was a Slovak–American professional 'National Football League' (NFL) player who had a glorious career with the 'Philadelphia Eagles' (1949 to 1962). Popularly known as ''Concrete Charlie,'' he is remembered as the fiercest tackler (middle linebacker) in the history of ‘NFL.’ He was also one of the best blockers (center) of his time. The full-time two-way player was the last 60-minute man in the history of ‘NFL.’ Bednarik was perhaps the most sincere player in the history of the sport, as he had missed only 3 games in his entire career. He had a stint in the 'US Air Force,' during which he received several honors. As a football player, Bednarik was part of many 'Hall of Fame’ honors. Since two-way players have now faded from the football scene, Bednarik always criticized young players who preferred being only on one side of the ball. He was highly publicized for his unapologetic criticism.
Childhood & Early Life
Charles Philip Bednarik was born on May 1, 1925, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to Mary Bednarik and Charles Bednarik Sr. He was their oldest son. He grew up with his eldest sister, Betty, and his other siblings, John (also known as Jeep), Mary, Richie, and David.
He attended the 'SS. Cyril & Methodius' school in Bethlehem and then went to the 'Broughal Junior High School,' where football coach Paul Troxell encouraged him to try the sport. However, his mother was against his choice of playing football, as she was scared of possible injuries.
Bednarik's father came forward and permitted him to pursue the sport. He then played football for 'Liberty High School' in Bethlehem.
Upon graduating high school, he was drafted as a B-24 waist-gunner with the 'Eighth Air Force' of the 'United States Army Air Forces' and then participated in World War II. In his entire military career, Bednarik had flown on 30 combat missions over Germany and was decorated with an 'Air Medal,' four 'Oak Leaf Clusters,' the 'European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal,' and four 'Battle Stars.'
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Bednarik took a break from football for 2 years and then resumed playing for the 'University of Pennsylvania' as a 60-minute man or a two-way player. In his university career, he made a name for himself as a reliable center and linebacker and an occasional punter.
Bednarik was an 'All-American' (center) thrice and was elected to the 'College Football Hall of Fame.' In 1948, he bagged the third position in the university's 'Heisman Trophy' voting and received the 'Maxwell Award,' too.
Bednarik was the first player to be selected in the 1949 ‘NFL’ draft. He was taken by the 'Philadelphia Eagles,' as their center (offense) and linebacker (defense). He continued to play at these positions till the 1956 season.
In 1950, he received the 'All-NFL' award as a center-offense. He did better as a bone-jarring linebacker. He was part of the 'All-NFL' as a linebacker in 1951 through 1957, and again in 1960.
In the finals of the 1960 'NFL Championship Game,' Bednarik secured a 17–13 victory for the 'Eagles,' by tackling Jim Taylor of the 'Green Bay Packer' at his team's 8-yard line and kept him from scoring in the final seconds of the match.
In 1960, he displayed one of the most successful tackles in ‘NFL’ history by knocking out Frank Gifford of the 'New York Giants' for over 18 months. His brawl with Chuck Noll of the 'Cleveland Browns,' who had smashed his face during a fourth-down punting play, was highly publicized.
In 1969, he was named "The Greatest Center of All-Time,” as voted by a panel of sports journalists, coaches, and 'Hall of Fame' players.
He was nicknamed "Concrete Charlie," as he worked at the 'Warner Company' as a concrete salesman during the off-season days. However, many believe that his reputation as a ferocious tackler had earned him the name. The nickname was highlighted after sportswriter Hugh Brown used it to address him in 'The Evening Bulletin.'
From 1977 to 1978, Bednarik worked as an analyst in the premiere season of the 'HBO' weekly sports show 'Inside The NFL.'
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In 1999, 'The Sporting News' featured him at number 54 on its list of the '100 Greatest Football Players,' making him the highest-ranking player to have played exclusively for the 'Eagles' for his entire career. With that, he also became the highest-ranking offensive center and the eighth-ranked linebacker in professional football.
In 2010, Bednarik bagged the 35th position on the list of 'The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players,' curated by 'NFL Network.'
Personal Opinions & Brawls
Being outspoken and highly critical of modern ‘NFL’ players, he had openly expressed his dislike for players who did not play on both sides of the ball. He addressed such players as "pussyfoots."
Despite being a two-way player, Deion Sanders of the 'Dallas Cowboys' had attracted his contempt. The former had bagged the 34th position on the 'NFL Network' list.
Bednarik had also criticized Troy Brown of the 'New England Patriots,' another two-way player.
In 1996, he had a brawl with Jeffrey Lurie, the current owner of the 'Eagles.' Lurie refused to pay the quoted price for the 100 copies of his new book that he was supposed to buy for the entire team. Lurie was following the team's rules, but the conflict was expressed in public during the team's 'Super Bowl' appearance in 2005, when Bednarik went against the team.
Bednarik had displayed his dissatisfaction over several league issues, such as his pension and the pay structure.
During the summer training camp of the 'Eagles' in 2006, he reconciled with the team. The feud between him and Lurie, too, came to an end.
Nevertheless, it did not change a thing about Bednarik, and he continued to make critical remarks about ‘NFL’ players such as Reggie White. Due to this reason, the reconciliation was not received whole-heartedly by the fans.
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In response to his remark, Bednarik issued an apology, as published in the edition of Allentown's 'Morning Call' newspaper, on August 4 that year. The article further revealed that he was confused and that the remark was actually meant for former 'Eagles' wide receiver Terrell Owens.
The 'Eagles' honored Bednarik and his achievements by retiring his jersey number 60. With this, he became one of the eight players from the team to retire that way.
He was one of the first from the 'Eagles' to be part of their 'Honor Roll' in 1987.
Bednarik, who had an illustrious career with the 'Eagles,' missed only 3 games in his 14-season-long career. Two of those games were missed in his rookie season.
He was an 'All-Pro' eight times and the last of the 'Sixty-Minute Men' ‘NFL’ players to play both offense and defense.
Personal Life & Death
Bednarik's father was in his early 20s when in 1920, he had migrated from Široké village in eastern Slovakia. He previously worked in the coal mines of Mount Carmel and later moved to 'Bethlehem Steel' after a strike forced him to quit the mining job. Bednarik's mother had insisted that his father quit the mining job before marrying her.
Bednarik's mother was featured in the 2004 video documentary 'The Complete History of the Philadelphia Eagles.'
Bednarik was initially married to Emma and had five daughters. His eldest daughter, Charlene Thomas, was followed by Pamela McWilliams, Donna Davis, Carol Safarowic, and Jackie Chelius. He was survived by his 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Bednarik was admitted to the 'St. Luke's Hospital' in Bethlehem, on March 26, 2011. He was critical at that point but reported fine the following day.
As his son-in-law later reported, Bednarik had just passed out from low blood pressure, which they had mistaken for a heart attack.
He spent his final years in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley, with his wife.
On March 21, 2015, Bednarik died at an assisted living facility in Richland because of a "brief illness," as reported later.
However, Thomas claimed that he had Alzheimer's disease and dementia for several years. She also mentioned that his football-related injuries had largely triggered his illnesses and that his death was not caused due to a brief illness.
His second daughter confirmed his Alzheimer's disease.
In 2018, the 'Slovak Association of American Football' established the 'Bednarik Trophy.' The annual award is presented to the best collegiate defensive player every year.
He is still remembered for delivering one of the most thunderous hits, popularly known as ''The Hit,'' in the history of football. During a game on November 20, 1960, he took down the 'New York Giants' center player Frank Gifford.