Eagles all-time great Chuck Bednarik was recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company in Bethlehem, Pa. on Friday as part of "Hometown Hall of Famers™," a national program honoring the hometown roots of the sport’s greatest coaches, players, and contributors with special ceremonies and plaque dedication events in local communities.
"’Hometown Hall of Famers™’ has been warmly embraced by communities and Hall of Famers alike," said George Veras, Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises president and CEO. "We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Allstate to bring the Pro Football Hall of Fame to communities across the country and congratulate Chuck Bednarik and Liberty High School on bringing a piece of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to Bethlehem."
An eight-time Pro Bowl player and former high school standout at Liberty High School, Bednarik was presented with his "Hometown Hall of Famer™" plaque during a special ceremony in the school’s gymnasium, where the plaque will live permanently to serve as an inspiration for the school’s students and athletes. The presentation was made by Pete Carril, former Princeton basketball coach and College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, and Bill Werpohoski, longtime friend of Bednarik and Moravian College Sports Hall of Fame inductee.
The ceremony was attended by Liberty High School students, faculty, staff, alumni and Bednarik’s family members and close friends. Fred Harris, Liberty High School Athletic Director, served as the Master of Ceremonies.
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Chuck Bednarik "Hometown Hall of Famers™" road sign is on display in Bethlehem.
A two-time All-America center from the University of Pennsylvania, Bednarik was selected by the Eagles as the first overall draft pick in the 1949 NFL Draft. In 1950, Bednarik received All-NFL recognition as a center. Although he frequently played both offense and defense right up through the 1956 season, it was as a bone-jarring linebacker that he drew the most attention. He was named All-NFL as a linebacker 1951 through 1957 and again in 1960.
His athletic abilities and inspirational play was particularly evident in 1960 when injuries forced the Eagles to ask their 12-year veteran to again play both sides of the line. The then 35-year-old was sensational. He finished the campaign with a 58-minute performance, capped by a game-saving tackle in the Eagles' NFL championship victory over Green Bay. With just seconds remaining, the Packers' Jim Taylor appeared to be heading for a winning touchdown until the last Eagle in his path, Bednarik, bear-hugged him to the ground as time ran out.
Bednarik was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.