Apr 6, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 29 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
By happy accident, the city of Philadelphia has been blessed over the years with a number of sports stars who embody the city’s general temperament: pugnacious, diligent, and impolitic. The town has little love for professional athletes in the movie star or gentleman mode. Instead, Philadelphians revere men such as Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Reggie White, Jerome Brown, John Kruk, and Bobby Clarke. The loud tough guys who care about the game.
Last week one of the great Philadelphia tough guys passed away. “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik was 89 years old and Philly through and through. A local boy, he was raised in nearby Bethlehem and after high school went into the Army Air Force, where he served as the waist-gunner in a B-24 Liberator and flew 30 combat missions over Germany. After the war he came home to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he played both center and linebacker, was a three-time All-American, and was generally considered the best defensive player in the country. After demolishing the Ivy League, he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, for whom he played from 1949 to 1962.
Bednarik was one of the last professional football players to play both ways, as a center and a linebacker. And he played with an unapologetic abandon. In 1960 he hit the New York Giants running back Frank Gifford so hard that the insufferable Gifford didn’t play again until 1962. (There is a photo of Bednarik standing over Gifford’s body pumping a fist; Bednarik insists he was just happy that he’d caused a fumble and that the Eagles had recovered it.)
In the championship game that year (the first Super Bowl didn’t take place until 1967), Bednarik made the game-winning tackle on the nine-yard line when he took down Green Bay’s Jim Taylor and refused to let him off the ground until the final few seconds had expired. “Everybody reminds me of [that moment],” Bednarik once said. “And I’m happy they remind me of it. I’m proud and delighted to have played in that game.” That’s high-grade Philadelphia.
Concrete Charlie played 60 minutes a game and missed just 3 games in his 14-year career. As the saying goes, they don’t make them like they used to.
Everything or, perhaps … nothing.6:12 PM, Jan 31, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Way back when, a Dallas Cowboys running back named Duane Thomas was asked, in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, what it was like to play in the “ultimate game.”
...At The White House Or NFL4:35 PM, Jan 23, 2015 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen Hayes on the bad week for the Obama White House and the NFL.
There were Giants in the earth in those days . . . and ColtsJan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The New York Giants faced the Baltimore Colts, and the winners would be the champions of the National Football League. But while it was a championship game, it did not sell out, meaning television was blacked out in the city where it was played. The Giants had the better record so the game was played in New York. Since the Giants didn’t have their own stadium, built for their game, they played in Yankee Stadium. Baseball was the American pastime. In the mind of the public, football was a college game, played by amateurs.
12:25 PM, Dec 29, 2014 • By GARY SCHMITT
Growing up in Dallas, there is nothing better than living in Washington, D.C., on “Misery Monday”—the Monday after the Dallas Cowboys have whipped the Washington Redskins. And believe me, yesterday was a whipping with the Cowboys defeating the Redskins 44-17.
11:04 AM, Oct 28, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
If you were a member of the Church of Political Correctness and watching ESPN’s Monday Night Football last night (say someone had tied you to a chair and forced it upon you) … well for whom would you have been rooting?
11:25 AM, Sep 27, 2014 • By MITCH PEARLSTEIN
For many, the Adrian Peterson child abuse case spanning Texas to Minnesota has been tough to grasp as, up until several weeks ago, he was viewed by most people who knew anything about him as a good man, not just a great football player for the Minnesota Vikings.
1:32 PM, Sep 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
As the military prepares to take on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering a review ... of the military's ties to the National Football League. This comes "in the wake of the scandal over how the league is handling domestic-abuse allegations against players," reports CNN.
4:06 PM, Sep 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Last night’s contest between the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers, in that team’s brand new stadium, was hijacked by the zebras. More penalties than plays, it sometimes seemed. And the ratings were off a little but still good enough to beat the Miss America contest. But if a ratings slide were the worst news possible for the NFL, then the league would happily take that.
10:12 AM, Aug 8, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The fight over television blackouts of NFL games is on again. The league, which may be the most successful, powerful, and popular sports conglomerate in history, is lobbying Congress for some of its famous protective services.
11:01 AM, Jun 18, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The white-hot issue of what to call the professional football team currently playing its home games in the vicinity of the nation’s capital just got hotter. Earlier this week, Senator Harry Reid said he wouldn’t accept comp tickets (truly a first for a sitting senator) to the team’s games so long as it continued to be called the “Redskins.”
10:04 AM, May 29, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
First Lady Michelle Obama plays a sideline reporter in a video with NFL star-turned White House chef Richard Sherman in a video promoting healthy eating:
"Well, let me tell you," Sherman shouts at Obama. "We the best chefs in the game. So when you try us with an easy meal like salmon cakes and succotash, that's the result you going to get."
"Wow, Richard, where'd you learn to do all this?" Obama asks. "I mean, corn, succotash, salmon cakes."