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Philadelphia Eagles great Steve Van Buren dies
- Updated: August 24, 2012
The city of Philadelphia lost a legend Thursday night as Hall of Fame halfback Steve Van Buren passed away the age of 91. The 7-time All-pro was inducted in the Hall Fame in 1965 and spent his entire professorial career in Philadelphia. The Eagles reported that Van Buren passed away from pneumonia.
Steve Van Buren became a legend during a blizzard on December 26, 1948. He led the Eagles to their first NFL title by scoring the lone touchdown against the Chicago Cardinals. The famous photo (above) of Van Buren dashing through the snow to pay dirt will always be an image that sums up blue collar Eagles football. Funny now but Van Buren almost missed the 1948 title game as he assumed the game would not be played in the bad weather. He was home minding his business when Eagles Head Coach Greasy Neale called to tell him the game was still on. Van Buren had little time to get to the stadium. His adventure to the game had him catch 3 trolleys then walk 12 blocks.
One season later the Eagles took home the NFL crown again by knocking off the Rams 14-0, a game that Van Buren run for 196 yards. Philadelphia became the first and only team to shut out its opponents in back-to-back championship games.
As a rookie in 1944 the former LSU star was nicked named “Wham-Bam” for his quick and bruising style of running. Van Buren’s impact was felt right away as ran for 444 yards in his first season with Philadelphia. On top of this he led the league in punt returns. He won four rushing titles in 1945, 1947, 1948 and 1949, and became the first running back in NFL history to achieve three consecutive rushing titles.
Van Buren injured his leg during training camp in 1952 and was forced to retire after 8 seasons. He finished his career with finished with 5,860 yards rushing and 77 TDs. Upon retiring he was the NFL’s leading rusher. The Eagles retired #15 and Va Buren will go down as one of the greatest backs in NFL history.