Can’t let Concrete Charlie slip away without a note, can we?
Chuck Bednarik was a bit before my time, already a legendary local hero by the time I started paying attention to sports. He was the last of the tribe who played both sides of the ball — center on offense, and linebacker the rest of the time — and known around the league as a tough guy’s tough guy; a relentless brute, but not a dirty player. In his 14-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles, he missed just three games, playing 60 minutes in each of the rest of them.
The two highlights of his career were his hit on NY Giants’ star receiver Frank Gifford in 1960, not only causing Gifford to drop the pass, but knocking him out cold. Gifford missed the rest of the season and all of the next before returning. That same year, Bednarik made a game-saving tackle on Green Bay’s running back Jim Taylor inside the 10-yard line. He pinned Taylor to the ground as the clock ran out, finally letting him up with the words, “This game is over.”
That was pre-Superbowl, and the last time the Philadelphia Eagles won a championship.
Born to ethnic Czechs in Bethlehem, PA, Bednarik flew 30 combat missions over Germany during WW2, played for UofP, then was drafted by the Eagles in 1949. He supplemented his income by selling concrete — hence the nickname, which worked real well on the gridiron, too.
I can’t remember actually seeing him play, but his name and presence were ubiquitous in Philly sports circles (where nobody ever used the word “ubiquitous”). Ironically, what I remember best is a radio commercial where if he didn’t actually speak the lines, his persona was invoked. In a deep gravelly growl, it went sort of like this:
All my life, I’ve had no neck. Even as a kid, growing up, people called me “No-Neck.” They’d say, “Howyadoin, No-Neck?’” and “Hey, what’s happenin’, No-Neck?” You can imagine how hard it was for me to buy clothes that fit, what with no neck. I’d pay a fortune to have everything tailored.
That’s why I’m so happy when I go to Krass Brothers Men’s Store. Not only do they have beautiful suits and shirts, but the alterations are free. Free! Even for me!
So now when I go into Krass Brothers and I ask how much it’s gonna cost to tailor the suit, they say, “Hey, no charge, No-Neck!”
Here’s a photo of Concrete Charlie as a youth. See? No neck!