Thursday, January 15, 2004

Forgotten Men II

Around here everyone agrees that the Eagles's conversion of the 4th and 26 against the Packers is the greatest play in Eagles history. But it wasn't the most important. That honor should go to Chuck Bednarik's open field tackle of Jim Taylor in the 1960 championship game. That play stopped the Packers on the Eagles's 8 yard line as time expired and gave Philadelphia their last NFL title.

The amazing thing about that tackle is that Bednarik made it after PLAYING 58 MINUTES in the game. "Concrete Charlie" was the last of the two-way players. In 1960 he played center on offense and linebacker on defense. It is hard to imagine a tougher combination to play well at the same time: block Rosie Grier or Sam Huff when your team has the ball, fight off Jerry Kramer or tackle Jim Brown when you don't. A cornerback or receiver can take some plays off; a linebacker or O-lineman hits and gets hit on every play.

Bednarik played both positions on a championship team when he was 35 years old. That's a level of toughness that makes thugs like Ray Lewis look like kiddies.

Oh yeah. Before Bednarik went to college, he flew 30 missions over Germany as a waist gunner on a B-24. He earned the Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters.

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