“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.” – Chuck Bednarik
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.”
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, well, me.
Bednarik had a Hall of Fame career with the Eagles and played on both sides of the football. Even as the NFL moved into specialization, or at least guys who played on one side of the ball, Concrete Charlie never came off the field. Fitting, the guy who was known as the last 60-minute man wore No. 60 for the Eagles.
Also fitting, Bednarik served as a waist gunner in a B-24 Liberator and took part in 30 long-range bombing missions over German.
“There was anti-aircraft fire all around,” Bednarik said. “You just waited for your turn to get hit, but ours never came.”
Bednarik was awarded the Air Medal and four Oak Leaf Clusters, the European Theater Operations Medal, four Battle Stars and the Good Conduct Medal.
So, thank you to Bednarik and all of those who have served in our armed forces. For more on the NFL’s history in the military check out our photo gallery.