Eagles Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik dies at 89

Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik died at the age of 89 early Saturday morning.
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Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik died at the age of 89 early Saturday morning.

The Eagles announced Bednarik died following a brief illness at an assisted living facility in Richland, Pa. Regarded as one of the NFL's toughest players and strongest tacklers, Bednarik played center and linebacker for a franchise-record 14 seasons with the Eagles from 1949 to 1962.

Bednarik won two NFL championships with the Eagles in 1949 and 1960, was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and 10-time All-Pro selection. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, the first year he was eligible.

"With the passing of Chuck Bednarik, the Eagles and our fans have lost a legend," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a release. "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."

Over his 169 career regular-season games—fourth-most in Eagles history—Bednarik recorded 20 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries.

Known as "Concrete Charlie" for his offseason job as a concrete salesman for the Warner Company, Bednarik was named a member of the NFL's 1950s All-Decade and 75th Anniversary teams.

Before his NFL career, Bednarik, who was born May 1, 1925, in Bethlehem, Pa., flew 30 missions as a B-24 waist gunner in World War II. He was awarded the Air Medal, and later had an All-American football career at the University of Pennsylvania. The Eagles selected him first overall in the 1949 NFL draft.

"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," Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said in a release. "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."

Bednarik's name has been attached to college football's Chuck Bednarik Award since 1995 and is given annually to the sport's best defensive player.

Bednarik is survived by his wife of 67 years, Emma, five daughters, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mike Fiammetta