Group wants Bednarik statue at Penn, if money can be raised

"Concrete Charlie" might be cast in bronze one day.

Civic leaders, NFL figures and fans have been pushing for a statue of Chuck Bednarik to be erected at Franklin Field, where he played with both the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the Philadelphia Daily Newsreported Saturday, raising money for the project, which would be the centerpiece of a sports museum honoring Penn and the Eagles, has been a problem.

"From what I gathered in talking to Steve (Bilsky, Penn's athletic director), we gave a monetary figure (to be raised) to the people who came to us with the idea of doing the Bednarik statue," Mike Mahoney, the school's director of athletic communications, told the newspaper. "The sense I get is we're nowhere near that number at this point."

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According to the Daily News, NFL Films president Steve Sabol, former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, ex-U.S. vice president John Chaney and Upton Bell, son of the late NFL commissioner Bert Bell, are among those who support the Bednarik statue. Bednarik himself also would like to see it.

"Fantastic. Fantastic. Unbelievable," the 86-year-old Hall of Famer told the newspaper from his Coopersburg, Pa., home. "I hope I live long enough to see it."

Brian P. Hanlon, a New Jersey-based artist, said he has done sketches for the statue, and "I am prepared to start the 7-foot clay model as soon as I am contracted by the University of Pennsylvania to proceed."

When that will happen is anyone's guess, but there's strong sentiment to honor Bednarik, who played center and linebacker for the Eagles from 1949 to 1962 and is considered one of the NFL's "last 60-minute men." He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, and the Eagles retired his jersey No. 60.

Eagles president Joe Banner told the Daily News that the team isn't "anti-statues" and pointed out that its practice facility features big pictures of Hall of Fame players, including Bednarik.

"The group that wanted to do the Bednarik statue, we had talked to them about our idea of taking one player from each decade and kind of doing a group of statues," Banner said. "They wanted to honor Chuck separately, in a time frame sooner than we were prepared to do."

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