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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik's crushing tackle of Frank Gifford was the signature highlight of the 1960 pro football season. Yet it was only one of many highlights for the Eagles that year -- a year in which the team seemed to rise above the sum of its parts. In The 1960 Philadelphia Eagles, Philly sports scribe Robert Gordon celebrates the unheralded gridiron greats who won the City of Brotherly Love its last NFL title.
Statistically speaking, the Eagles were underwhelming. Their 34-year-old quarterback, Norm "Dutch" Van Brocklin, was picked off early and often. Despite another future Hall of Famer, Sonny Jurgensen, backing him up, there was no quarterback controversy: The Eagles stood behind Dutch, who in turn rallied the team past the Cleveland Browns (led by Jimmy Brown and Bobby Mitchell) and the New York Giants (Sam Huff, Frank Gifford, et al.). On December 26, 1960, 67,325 fans packed into University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field (scene of the Penn Relays and at that time the Eagles' home field as well) to watch the championship game between the Eagles and Vince Lombardi's mighty Green Bay Packers.
In addition to game-by-game summaries, the personalities of Dutch, diehard "Concrete Charlie" Bednarik, star tight end Pete Retzlaff, diminutive flanker Tommy McDonald, and other 1960 Eagles are sketched out. Gordon makes a convincing case that Retzlaff should join Dutch, Bednarik, McDonald, and Jurgensen in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
An entertaining history of professional football in Philadelphia is provided as a backdrop to the '60 season. During the 1920s, the best team in town was the Frankford Yellow Jackets, a squad led by a 142-pound Swarthmore college grad at quarterback. In 1941, the Eagles and the Steelers traded their entire franchises. Pro football was not always the big business it is today.
For Gordon, The 1960 Philadelphia Eagles was a labor of love. For his sake, let's hope the Eagles revisit past glory before a half century expires. Until then, Eagles fans can savor the finale of that epic title game: the Eagles clinging to a 17-13 lead, Green Bay's drive for a winning touchdown dying in the final seconds as the Packers' Paul Hornung is smothered, fittingly, by No. 60 -- Chuck Bednarik. (Brenn Jones)