PHILADELPHIA - Former Quaker and No. 1 NFL Draft Pick, Chuck Bednarik, ED'49, was honored by Penn Athletics and the Ivy Football Association (IFA) at the Sixth IFA Dinner at The Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on January 27.
The IFA Dinner, led by co-masters of ceremonies Chris Berman, a 1977 Brown graduate and ESPN personality, and award-winning journalist Jack Ford, a 1972 graduate of Yale, recognized the on-and off-field achievements of Bednarik and the seven other 2011 IFA honorees: Joe O'Donnell (Harvard '67), Gus White (Brown '57), Marty Domres (Columbia '69), Peter Gogolak (Cornell '64), Hank Higdon (Yale '63), Dennis Keller (Princeton '63) and Murry Bowden (Dartmouth '71).
The dinner, which was attended by current and former Penn Football standouts, featured a speech from each of the honorees.
Just a few weeks earlier, Bednarik was honored by the Walter Camp Football Foundation as their "Distinguished American of the Year." For more on that recognition, click here.
A native of Bethelhem, Pa., Bednarik played football for Liberty High School. Following graduation, he entered the U.S. Army Air Forces and served as a B-24 waist-gunner with the Eighth Air Force and flew thirty combat missions over Germany. Following his military service, Bednarik attended the University of Pennsylvania and was a two-time Walter Camp All-America selection (1947 and 1948) as a center and linebacker. In 1948, Bednarik placed third in the Heisman Trophy voting and won the Maxwell Award.
Bednarik was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1949 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He proceeded to play 14 seasons for the Eagles, starting at offensive center and linebacker as one of the final two-way players in the NFL. Highly durable, Bednarik missed just three games in those 14 seasons and was nicknamed “Concrete Charlie.” He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and was a 10-time All-Pro honoree. Bednarik led the Eagles to the 1960 NFL championship where they defeated the Green Bay Packers, 17-13, for their only NFL title. He retired following the 1962 season and his No. 60 Eagles uniform is now retired.
Bednarik was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 (his first year of eligibility) and was a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. Today, the Chuck Bednarik Award is presented to the college defensive player of the year by the Maxwell Football Club. Bednarik was also inducted into the University of Pennsylvania's first Hall of Fame class in 1996.