Chuck Bednarik, namesake of the Bednarik Award, dead at 89

Chuck Bednarik

Penn's legendary linebacker and College Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik passed away early Saturday morning. He was 89.

Bednarik, who is the namesake for the award given to the top defensive player in the country, played both linebacker and center for the Penn Quakers. He was a three-time All-American and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1969.

Bednarik won the Maxwell Award, which honors the nation’s top player, in 1948 and finished third in Heisman voting that same year. The Maxwell Football Club, which issues the Maxwell Award, founded the Chuck Bednarik Award in 1995.

Bednarik was the first overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1949. Known as “Concrete Charlie” because he sold concrete to supplement his income, Bednarik played linebacker and center for the Eagles until 1962.

He was lauded for his ability to play all 60 minutes in a game and criticized modern players for not having the drive to do the same. Bednarik missed only three games in his 14-year NFL career. Bednarik was the last NFL starter to play regularly on both offense and defense until Deion Sanders did it for the Dallas Cowboys in 1996.

Prior to his time at Penn, Bednarik flew 30 combat missions over Germany as a gunner during World War II.

Bednarik is survived by his wife, Emma, and five daughters — Charlene Thomas, Donna Davis, Carol Safarowic, Pam McWilliams, and Jackie Chelius, as well as 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!

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