Philadelphia Eagles great Chuck Bednarik, a grisly pro football hall of famer and the namesake for one of college football's most prestigious awards, died early Saturday morning at a Pennsylvania assisted living facility at the age of 89, the Eagles announced.
Bednarik died around 4:30 a.m. Saturday following a brief illness, according to a release sent out by the team.
“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," said Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie.
Bednarik was born in Bethlehem and played football for the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Eagles when he was chosen first overall in the 1949 NFL draft.
Bednarik, known as "Concrete Charlie," was one of the NFL's most fearsome tacklers and was one of of the NFL's last great two-way players. He played center and linebacker who's best known for two monumental hits during the 1960 season.
In one, in the 1960 title game, he threw a Green Bay Packers running back to the ground and refused to let him get back up as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
He's also known for his takedown of fellow hall of famer Frank Gifford earlier in the season. Gifford, a New York Giants running back, was hit so hard that he suffered a concussion and didn't play again for nearly two years. Enduring images of the tackle show Bednirak towering over Gifford and pumping his fist.
“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." said Eagles president Don Smolenski.
College football fans also remember Bednarik for the award that bears his name. The Maxwell Football Club have presented the Bednarik Award each year to the most outstanding defensive player at the collegiate level.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker leaves behind his wife of 67 years, five daughters, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.