The Philadelphia Eagles are saddened to learn of the passing of one of their all-time greats, Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker and center Chuck Bednarik.
Bednarik died early this morning following a brief illness at an assisted living facility in Richland, PA. He was 89.
A Philadelphia legend, Bednarik played a franchise-record 14 seasons with the Eagles from 1949-1962 and was part of two NFL Championship squads, in both 1949 and in 1960. One of the last two-way players in the NFL, Bednarik delivered a legendary performance in the 1960 NFL Championship Game, playing nearly every minute at both linebacker and center against the Green Bay Packers. With seconds remaining in the contest and Packers running back Jim Taylor headed for the end zone, Bednarik made a game-saving tackle and bear-hugged him to the ground as time ran out, preserving a 17-13 Eagles victory.
Jeffrey Lurie: “With the passing of Chuck Bednarik, the Eagles and our fans have lost a legend. Philadelphia fans grow up expecting toughness, all-out effort and a workmanlike attitude from this team and so much of that image has its roots in the way Chuck played the game. He was a Hall of Famer, a champion and an all-time Eagle. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this time.”
Don Smolenski: “So many of the timeless moments in Eagles history are associated with Chuck Bednarik. He played his entire career in Philadelphia, college and pro, and he lived his entire life here and in the Lehigh Valley. He was a proud competitor and a dedicated and devout family man who loved Eagles fans as much as they loved him. He left his mark on this team and will forever be a legend within this organization.”
Chip Kelly: “I have had the opportunity to spend time with Chuck Bednarik, who is truly one of the most unique players that this game has ever seen. The foundation of this organization and this league is built on the backs of past greats, with Chuck at the forefront. The way he played the game with an endless passion and tenacity helped establish the standard of excellence that this organization stands for; one that we strive to achieve each and every day.”
Born on May 1, 1925, in Bethlehem, PA, Bednarik played football at the University of Pennsylvania after serving in World War II, where he flew 30 missions as a B-24 waist gunner and was awarded the Air Medal. Bednarik went on to earn All-America honors in his final two seasons at Penn and was selected by the Eagles with the first overall choice in the 1949 NFL draft. Since 1995, the Maxwell Football Club annually gives out the “Chuck Bednarik Award” to college football’s best defensive player.
Bednarik is survived by Emma, his wife of 67 years, five daughters; Charlene Thomas, Donna Davis, Carol Safarowic, Pam McWilliams, and Jackie Chelius, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Funeral arrangements are pending.