Chuck Bednarik honorary captain at Eagles game

September 17, 2013
Ivy League Penn graduate, All-American, All-Pro and World War II hero Chuck Bednarik shares a smile. BY DAVE FREDERICK

Concrete Charlie - He was the last 60-minute, two-way player in the NFL as center and linebacker, famous in Philly for tackling, then sitting on Green Bay Packer Jim Taylor as the clock expired and the Eagles won the 1960 NFL Championship. Chuck Bednarik, now 88 years old, was an honorary alumni captain at Sunday’s game versus the Chargers, a team that was founded in 1960 on a day when defense didn’t exist on the field. Chuck Bednarik is also known for a bone-rattling tackle that essentially ended the career of New York Giant Frank Gifford.

I heard Bednarik tell the story of that hit at a sports banquet I emceed. He literally lifted the podium off the floor: "Giants quarterback Charlie Connerly came over to me while Gifford was on the ground and said, 'That was just unnecessary,' and I told him 'Shut the hell up; you’re next!'” Les Keiter, an announcer famous for stringing big words together, and Bednarik, a color commentator famous for, "You took the words right out of my mouth, Les,” were the broadcast team for Temple football when I played there. Bednarik was a B-24 waist gunner in World War II with 30 combat missions. Fitting he would be on the sidelines when an American flag covering the entire field was anchored by active guys in the military while a trained eagle circled over top.

Quoted about today's players, Bednarik called them “pussyfoots,” adding, “They couldn’t tackle my wife, Emma." Add to that he’s a Penn graduate and three-time All American - just an awesome guy.

Back in your day - We all know the commercial “Hey, what day is it?” as some stupid camel walks around some stupid office in anywhere stupid America finally saying, "Hump Day.” Because I have never left sports I sometimes get an honest question from a young athlete like, “Hey, Fredman! Did they have face masks back in your day? How about color television? How about hot dogs at games? Cheerleaders? Turf? I know you played on dirt wearing those high tops with those long spikes, didn’t you, Fredman? I heard coaches wouldn’t let you drink water back in your day.” I always respond, ”There is no back in my day, because today is my day, same as yours. I don’t try to put you back in fifth grade when you peaked running a banner around the outfield as a 10-year-old minor league all-star, so don’t put me back in high school where I drove a muscle car GTO Judge. By the way, what do you drive, your mother's PT Cruiser?”

Dogfish Head - There are worse monikers that end with "head," like Cabbage Head, Water Head, Big Head and my personal favorite, Grilled Cheese Head. I’ve heard them all used in Sussex County, but Dogfish Head just sounds cool in a pocket shark kind of way. I caught this photo at the finish line of the Dewey Beach triathlon last Saturday and I wanted to share it, not to mention I wanted to resume my social drinking career. I also caught a photo of a finisher drinking beer from a plastic funnel - figured it for a poster: Under the Influence of Beers and Peers.

Snippets - I looked onto the field during the second half at Archbishop Spalding and I saw a championship football team trailing 37-7. I saw a Cape team that had been smacked in the face and kneed in the groin. Throw in a neck stinger, hip flexor, high ankle sprain and whatever else happens in a one-half beat down. I saw the talent on Cape and saw athletes who kept playing. I saw a second half played by starters from both teams that was 13-7 Cape. Cape football will be a tough out the rest of the way, make no mistake about that.

I was the most interesting man at the Dewey Beach Triathlon because I don’t go to Jared because Jared goes to me. Eventual winner Jared Tootell asked me to hold onto his wedding ring before he went dogfish into the ocean, asking, “Do you feel comfortable?” and I answered, “No my feet hurt inside my waterlogged New Balance sneakers, but thanks for asking.” Go on now, git!

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