Chuck Bednarik, who died on Saturday at 89, was as tough as they come — whether in college at Penn or in the NFL as a two-way legend for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Before there were highlights and replays upon replays, Bednarik leveled a hit that that still stands the test of time.
Late in the 1960 season, the Philadelphia Eagles were playing the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium.
On Nov. 20, 1960, the 6-1 Eagles battled the rival 5-1-1 Giants with first place on the line in the NFL’s Eastern Division. With the Eagles leading 17-10 in the fourth quarter, Giants Hall of Famer Frank Gifford caught a pass and attempted to get to the sidelines.
He never made it because he unfortunately ran into Bednarik, who leveled the Giant.
Check it out:
Gifford fumbled. The Eagles recovered and Bednarik celebrated, not realizing the blast had left the Giant lying on the field, suffering a severe concussion that cost him the rest of the season — and the entire next season, before Gifford finally returned to the game in 1962.
Bednarik and the Eagles went on to beat the Gifford-less Giants the following week en route to the franchise’s last NFL title that season, punctuated with another classic Bednarik play in the championship game. On the game’s final play, Bednarik preserved the championship by tackling yet another Hall of Famer, Green Bay Packers’ Jim Taylor, just inside the Eagles’ 10-yard line and sat on him as the clock ran out in Philly’s 17-13 victory.
Oh, and by the way: Bednarik, considered the last of the NFL’s generation of 60-minute men who played both offense and defense, did it that season for the Eagles at the bruising positions of center and linebacker. At age 35. They just don’t make ’em the way they used to.