PHILADELPHIA – Add another item to Chuck Bednarik’s long list of football accomplishments. The University of Pennsylvania alum and Philadelphia Eagles legend was named to one of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) 75th Anniversary All-America Teams, earning a second-team nod at center. The FWAA announced the teams on Thursday morning.
Bednarik -- a 1949 Penn grad who passed away in March at the age of 89 -- is the only Ivy Leaguer to earn a spot on the three teams. By the time he entered Penn in 1945, Bednarik was already 20 years old and had flown 30 combat missions over Germany as a gunner. He was a 60-minute man for the Quakers, excelling at center and linebacker and was also occasionally called on to punt. Bednarik finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1948 and won the Maxwell Award that year.
A three-time All-America at Penn, Bednarik was later elected a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, as were two of his teammates on the 1947 squad -- tackle George Savitsky and tailback Tony Minisi -- and his coach, George Munger. Bednarik was inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame as part of its Inaugural Class in 1996.
The FWAA, which was founded in 1941, has picked an annual All-America team since the 1944 season, making it the second longest continuously selected team in major college football.
“This was one of the most fun, yet most difficult exercises I’ve had in life,” said FWAA 75th All-America Committee chairman Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman. “Truly, it was an exciting -- if not impossible -- task to find the best 75 college football players ever. Please save your hate mail, but feel free to weigh in and tell us how we messed up. And I’m sure we did, but no one should argue that it wasn’t a great idea to honor the best to have ever played the game. Let the debating begin.”
A nomination ballot with selected players from all FWAA All-America teams was sent to the entire membership this spring. The popular vote was then taken into consideration by a Blue Ribbon Committee of FWAA past presidents, current board members and officers. That committee put the finishing touches on selecting the 75-man team. In order for a player to be considered for the FWAA’s 75th team, he had to be on a previous FWAA All-America team.
“Picking the FWAA’s 75th Anniversary teams was like taking a final exam with no wrong answers,” said 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. “Even though some answers may be more ‘right’ than others, this will add to the colorful conversation about college football, honor those chosen, and help celebrate the game.’’
All eight decades in which the FWAA teams have been selected are represented on the 75-man team, starting in the 1940s with SMU’s Walker all the way through Alabama’s two-time All-America Barrett Jones, the 2011 Outland winner. In all, there are 56 members of the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame and 41 schools are represented on the three 25-man teams.
The FWAA has selected All-America Teams in different forms over the years. All the teams are online at allamericateam.com and footballwriters.com in the All-America section in the FWAA awards area.
“This was truly an enriching experience picking this team,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “It put our members in contact with the great players of the past and truly gave them a better snapshot of college football history. All of our All-Americans were great, but picking this team was like choosing between a filet mignon and a Kansas City strip.”
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson.
The FWAA welcomes comments on the selection of its 75th Anniversary All-America Team. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.