April 30th, 2014
Former Philadelphia Eagles RB Steve Van Buren was a NFL star who almost stayed at home for his greatest game!
Steve Van Buren was first-round draft pick in the 1944 NFL Draft, and he ran for 444 yards in nine games during his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also led the league in returning punts as a rookie.
The next season, Van Buren led the NFL in rushing. He would go on to win three additional rushing crowns and become the first running back in NFL history to achieve three consecutive rushing titles.
Van Buren's greatest game came on December 26, 1948. Playing in a blizzard for the NFL Championship against the Chicago Cardinals, Van Buren set a league record with 196 yards rushing and scored the only touchdown of the game to give the Eagles their first league title.
Here's the thing: Van Buren almost missed the game completely. Thinking the game wouldn't be played because of the blizzard, Van Buren remained home until Eagles coach Earle "Greasy" Neale called him and told him the game was still on. He had to catch 3 trolleys and walk 6 blocks in order to make the game on time, and Eagles fans are grateful he did!
Steve Van Buren was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
What was going on during Van Buren's rookie season of 1944?
Franklin D. Roosevelt became the only U.S. President to be elected to a fourth term.
A loaf of bread cost 9 cents.
Operation Overlord, the code name of D-Day, resulted in the landing of 155,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy, France.
Minimum wage was 30 cents an hour.
Popular films of that year included Arsenic and Old Lace, Double Indemnity and Going My Way.
Gasoline was 21 cents a gallon.
Popular singers that year were the Mills Brothers, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald.