There was a man at a Super Bowl party I attended about 10 years ago who was wearing a No. 60 Eagles jersey. I sidled up to the man and asked, “Chuck Bednarik jersey?” This guy became so excited, he gave me a hug and said, “I told my daughter that somebody was going to recognize this jersey today. I just didn’t figure it would be somebody so young.”
And my affinity for Bednarik is somewhat unexplainable. I am not an Eagles fan. I obviously never saw him play. But if you are a fan of NFL Films, then you know how easy it is to become a fan of the man they call “Concrete Charlie.” A waist gunner on a B-24, he flew 30 combat missions over Germany in World War II. He is a man’s man. Not some glamor boy like Hugh Jackman. But above all, Bednarik was one of the most quotable players ever.
And that was after he played. So, with the news Thursday that Bednarik was hospitalized in serious condition, it’s an appropriate time to look at the top six quotes from Bednarik (via NFL Films and The Associated Press).
6. “And you get into that sort of cannibalistic feeling … all you want to do is go out there and, like I say, kill somebody. I’m going to get him. I’m going to kill ‘em. Not like you are going to put them into the ground after, but you just want to kill a guy.”
5. “Pros like myself played football not for money or glory, but for the simplest reason: the love of the game.”
4. “For what my generation did and went through and so forth, and what these glamor boys earn for what little they play, it’s a joke. Is it football? Are you guys football players? Is that what they call football? It’s not iron-man football, where you stay on the field for 60 minutes. Everybody! We were iron men. Not a bunch of pussyfoots.”
3. “You’ve got to play with that killer instinct, man. You’ve got to hate that guy across from you. Then after the game is over, tell him what a nice guy he is. Shake his hand. Especially if you win.”
2. “About a minute-and-a-half to go. He goes on a down-and-in pass. As soon as he caught it, I really puffed him, and his head snapped and the ball flew, and Chuck Weber fell on it. I clenched my fist, I turned around, and I closed my eyes and I said, ‘This f-in game is over.’” (Bednarik on his famous hit on Giants RB Frank Gifford, as shown above.)
1. “The positions I played, every play, I was making contact, not like that … Deion Sanders. He couldn’t tackle my wife. He’s back there dancing out there instead of hitting.”