Think of versatile football players, and how they would fit into the A11 Professional Football League today.
Now think of a rarity, both in modern professional football and “back in the day” – Hall of Fame center/linebacker Chuck Bednarik.
Bednarik was a star two-way player for the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 seasons (1949-62), imposing his will on opponents for 60 full minutes game in and game out.
The National Football League’s last true “ironman,” Bednarik (6-foot-3, 233 pounds) came to the Eagles from the University of Pennsylvania as a bonus draft pick in 1949. Doubling as a both a punishing blocker and tackler, he missed only three games in his entire NFL career.
Bednarik finished his career as a nine-time all-NFL selection and an eight-time Pro Bowler. He also earned the title “NFL champion” for the second time in 1960 (the Eagles also won the 1949 NFL championship) by playing 58 of 60 minutes (after not having played both ways for a few years) and making the game-saving tackle in a 17-13 home win over the Green Bay Packers.
No. 60 played in 169 regular-season games in the NFL, recording 20 interceptions for 268 yards and a touchdown and 21 fumble recoveries. Bednarik even dabbled in special teams during his storied ironman career (12 punts for a 40.3-yard average in 1953, two punt returns for 26 yards in 1954 and four kickoff returns for 57 yards in 1954 and 1956).
While it might be unlikely for an A11FL team to employ a center/linebacker, as well as find someone as tough as Bednarik, it isn’t impossible to think an A11FL team could find a player as versatile as one of the game’s true greats.
Dusty Sloan is the A11 Professional Football League’s Senior Editor/Vice President of Editorial Content.