By Paul Kurtz
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly a hundred relatives, friends, and fans of the late Steve Van Buren gathered at a chapel on the grounds of the Navy Yard today to pay their last respects to the legendary Eagles’ running back who died last month at age 91 (see related story).
He is arguably the greatest Eagle of them all. But there was no argument when people talked about Steve Van Buren, the man.
“You couldn’t find a nicer person. Wonderful human being,” said Bill Mackrides, a backup quarterback for the Birds in the late ’40s and early ’50s.
All those who paid tribute to Van Buren gushed about the kind, gentle, and humble person they knew and loved. For many, his football career was an afterthought.
Another Eagles legend, Chuck Bednarick, was unable to attend the service but his son-in-law, Ken Safarowic, let it be known in no uncerain terms how Bednarick felt about his old teammate.
“Steve Van Buren is the only football player that Chuck Bednarick has ever acknowledged is a better football player than him and a greater Philadelphia Eagle,” Safarowic said today. “For Chuck, in his relationship with Steve, it’s always 1949, he’s a rookie and he’s in awe of playing with the best player in football.”
Tommy MacDonald and Troy Vincent were among a handful of other Eagles alumni who came out to pay their last respects.