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.
I'll admit, I have few childhood memories of the nativity scene my grandparents kept on their mantel every Christmas. I recall more clearly the haunting portrait of Santa Claus hanging in the foyer and the towering Christmas tree, with its pink ribbons and bows. And, of course, the bounty of presents.
The Scrapbook gets a lot of attention-grabbing emails, plaintive appeals from Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Gabby Giffords warning that civilization as we know it is going to end RIGHT NOW (unless we pledge $5 or more to fight Republican extremism before the midnight fundraising deadline). We thought we were inured to the political celebrity come-on. But last week a new name popped up in the sender column: Mumia Abu-Jamal.
President Obama was asked about the Kermit Gosnell trial in an interview that aired this morning:
"Have you been watching the Gosnell trial? It's a Philadelphia abortion doctor accused of gruesome crimes. Are you following it, and do you think it animates a larger debate about abortion in this country?"
The problem with Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist on trial for killing a mother and at least seven infants born alive after botched abortions, is that the government has too many anti-abortion regulations and not enough public funds for providing abortions to poor women. That’s according to the participants on a conference call hosted by RH Reality Check, a news and commentary website focused on “reproductive & sexual health and justice.”
One of the most sinister characters on TV appears in AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead and is known asthe Governor. Initially presented as a selfless leader, the Governor is soon exposed as a deranged tyrant who demands absolute loyalty from everyone around him and worships death to the point of preserving human heads in aquarium tanks. In this season’s finale, he even slaughters his own people in a frenzy of bloodlust.
Blue Bell, Pa. Bill Clinton was the star at a reelection rally here for Barack Obama, in suburban Philadelphia the day before the election. The former president addressed a crowd in the cold on the campus of Montgomery County Community College Monday afternoon. It was one one of four appearances Clinton made across Pennsylvania today.
The Romney campaign seems to have committed to a late push into Pennsylvania, to the derision of Team Obama. The latter sees this as a desperation ploy by a foundering campaign, similar to John McCain’s late entrance into the Keystone State in 2008. Is that right?
Matthew Continetti reviews Larry P. Arnn's The Founders' Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It in the Claremont Review of Books:
On Tuesday, the Vatican appointed Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput to lead Philadelphia’s Catholic population. Formerly the archbishop of Denver, Colorado, Chaput brings years of experience to the job – which he’ll need in a diocese that has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals.