Saturday, March 21, 2015

The story behind Bednarik's 'Gifford hit'

Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik, who passed away Saturday at age 89, put Frank Gifford out of commission in a 1960 win over the New York Giants Yankees Stadium.
Chuck Bednarik and Frank Gifford (photo courtesy of Philadelphia Eagles).

The image is iconic for more than one reason.

In the book "New York Giants: The Complete Illustrated History," author Lew Freedman writes of how incensed Giants players were over the shot that knocked Gifford cold.

Gifford wasn't moving at all when he was carted off the field.

On the same afternoon a stadium guard died of a heart attack. The corpse was in another area of the locker room covered by sheets.

Giants players suspected it was Gifford. Even when it was revealed Gifford was alive, the rumor of his alleged death went viral, at least for that era.

Bednarik later worked for Channel 6 in Philadelphia where an assignment was doing an Eagles-Giants football game at New York.

Billy Werndl, his producer, said Bednarik asked unsuspecting groundskeepers about the hit the No. 60 made years ago on Gifford.
Werndl said the workers couldn't pronounce Bednarik's name correctly and called the tackle a cheap shot, infuriating the Hall of Famer.

Bednarik showed the groundskeepers the 1960 NFL championship ring he wore, told him the pronunciation was 'Bednarik" and that it wasn't a cheap shot. That pretty much scattered the critics.

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