Chuck Bednarik was tough. He was fearless. He was one of a kind. And he delivered some of the most devastating hits in NFL history.
Those hits never will be seen on the field again.
Bednarik, the famed Philadelphia Eagles “60-Minute Man,” died Saturday at 89, and social media reaction to the news immediately celebrated this famed 1960 hit on Frank Gifford.
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The hit summed up the career of “Concrete Charlie,” who espoused tenacity during and after his playing days, but it also highlighted the pickle the NFL now finds itself in concerning player safety.
The league wants to eliminate high hits like the one that sidelined Gifford for 18 months and for all intents and purposes ended his Hall of Fame career, yet it still must celebrate the past that built its multibillion-dollar empire. The Eagles’ Twitter salute to Bednarik featured the famous shot of him standing over Gifford, who laid prone on the ground, severly injured. Others quickly followed suit in their tributes.
Today’s NFL isn’t the same one Bednarik played in during the 1950s and ’60s. We now know much more about what repeated hits do to players’ bodies and brains. However, fierce tackles, blood, sweat and tears make professional football arguably America’s favorite game, and there’s no way for the NFL to avoid that fact.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@EaglesInsider