Now, you have to admit, that’s some nickname.
Unfortunately, with each passing day, fewer fans know to whom that moniker applies.
On Saturday night at our preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, someone mispronounced Concrete Charlie’s last name.
When I made the correction, the party just said, “Whatever. Hey, is he in the Hall of Fame?”
Yes, he is. And I certainly understand that the most recent breed of fans and players might have some lack of awareness here.
For the uninitiated, “Concrete Charlie” is Chuck Bednarik, who was a center and linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949-62.
A two-time All-American and two-way player at Penn, Bednarik was the NFL’s last true two-way star — that is, he played both sides of the ball throughout the game, not as a novelty, but for his entire career.
He missed just three games in 14 years and led the Eagles’ last world championship team in 1960, a game in which he played 58 minutes and made the literal game-saving tackle in the closing seconds, giving Philadelphia the crown.
He is described at the Pro Football Hall of Fame as “rugged, durable, a bulldozing blocker and bone-jarring tackler.”
And no one ever relished contact more than this guy.
Nine times an All-NFL selection, Bednarik was named the NFL’s all-time center in 1969.
One of the immortal photos in pro football history shows New York Giants star halfback Frank Gifford absolutely prone, knocked out by a ferocious Bednarik hit. Standing above Gifford is a fiercely celebratory Bednarik. Gifford was out of the game for one full year.
There are a lot of players like that, great players from every age and era.
Just because we have not heard of all of them should not diminish their greatness.
In fact, Bednarik still follows pro football very closely and has frequently opined that he sees few players today whom he believes are as tough as he — and he is 82 years old.
Here’s to Concrete Charlie, and to those special players whose performance have earned them the best nicknames.