The Philadelphia Eagles lost legendary player Steve Van Buren on Thursday. Van Buren died of pneumonia at the age of 91 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Van Buren was drafted by the Eagles in 1944 from LSU. He lead the league in rushing four times , and when he retired was the leading rusher in the history of the league. Van Buren was also the first player to rush for over a thousand yards in multiple seasons during an era when a season consisted of 12 games.
The Eagles signed Van Buren for $4,000, who loved the game so much, he has said he would have played for anything. He was an integral part of the Eagles’ championship wins in 1948 and 1949.
In the 1948 game Van Buren famously took three trolleys and walked 12 blocks in a blizzard to get to the game in Philadelphia, where he scored the only touchdown in a 7-0 win over the Chicago Cardinals. In the 1949 championship game against the L.A. Rams, Van Buren rushed for 196 yards in the mud during a rainstorm in a 14-0 win.
NFL Films ranks Van Buren 58th in their list of the all-time greatest NFL players, as you can see here in a clip with Ray Didinger.
“On the field and off, as a player, a leader and a man, Steve Van Buren embodied the finest characteristics of our city and our sport,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said Thursday. “He was a friend and an inspiration to generations of fans, and the model of what an Eagle should be.”
Although Van Buren has been retired from football for over 60 years, he still holds several Philadelphia Eagles records, including the single game rushing record, and the most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame in 1965 after an eight year career with the Eagles, and is the only Hall of Fame player born in Honduras.
Steve Van Buren is survived by three daughters, 16 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.