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Author Topic: #15 - Steve Van Buren  (Read 4440 times)

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Fan_Since_64

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#15 - Steve Van Buren
« on: May 29, 2009, 10:58:17 PM »



#15
Steve Van Buren


Quite simply put, if Steve Van Buren wasn’t the greatest player ever to play for the Eagles, he certainly is among the top five. His number was retired by the team, and that only begins the list of honors that Van Buren, who played halfback for the Eagles from 1944 thru 1951, earned.

Steve was the Eagles’ 1st draft pick in 1944 out of LSU, where he had starred in football and track. He made an immediate impact in his rookie season, returning 15 punts for a league-leading 15.3 average and a TD, and 8 kickoffs for a 33.3 average and another touchdown. While he was at it, he rushed for 444 yards on just 80 carries, for a 5.6-yard average and another 5 TDs. In a game at Brooklyn, he had a career-high 70-yard TD run and totaled 129 yards in 12 carries, which stood as a record for rushing yards by an Eagles rookie until 2001. It was just the beginning of greater things to come.

The 6’0”, 210-pound Van Buren was a blend of power and speed, running with a distinctive heads-down style. His quick burst made him especially effective in the open field, but he was difficult to bring down and had the strength to physically punish would-be tacklers. Due to an old injury to his left shoulder, he always carried the ball in his right arm. When not carrying the ball, he was an excellent blocker.

In his eight-season NFL career, all with the Eagles, Van Buren led the league in rushing four times (1945, ’47, ’48, ’49). He set a single-season rushing record with 1008 yards in 1947, and broke that record in 1949 with 1146 yards, a total that would not be topped in the NFL until Jim Brown did so in 1958 (and it remained the team record until 1978). His 1320 career rushing attempts and 5860 rushing yards stand second only to Wilbert Montgomery; indeed, he was the NFL’s career rushing leader at the time of his retirement. He still holds team records for career rushing TDs (69), rushing TDs in a season (15 in 1945), rushing yardage in a game (205 in 1949 vs. Pittsburgh, on 27 carries), and shares the record for rushing attempts in a game with Heath Sherman (35 vs. the New York Bulldogs in 1949). He had 19 100-yard rushing games for the Eagles, including his 196-yard performance on 31 carries in the 1949 NFL Championship game played in a drenching rain against the Los Angeles Rams (both totals still stand as franchise playoff records).

Steve holds the Eagles’ team record for touchdowns in a season, with 18 in 1945 (in a 10 game season, no less), when he also led the NFL in scoring (110 points). Altogether, he scored 77 touchdowns during his career, second to Harold Carmichael.

An outstanding kick returner, Van Buren ranks second in team history with his 13.9  career punt return average (34 returns for 473 yards) and first in kickoff return average (26.7 on 76 returns for 2030 yards). He was the first Eagle to score two touchdowns on punt returns in his career, and his 3 TDs on kickoff returns ranks second to Timmy Brown (tied with Derrick Witherspoon).

With a run-oriented team, and in an era when backs typically weren’t a significant part of the passing game, Steve caught 45 passes for 523 yards (11.6 avg.) and 3 TDs during his career, with a high of 10 in both 1945 and ’48. Not a fan of the passing game, he once commented that “the guy who threw the first forward pass must have been through as a football player or just too tired that day to run with the ball”.

Defensively, he intercepted 9 passes overall, with a season high of 5 in 1944, and was regarded as a solid tackler.

In addition to his record-setting performance in the ’49 championship game, Van Buren also scored the only touchdown in the 1948 NFL championship game, played in blizzard conditions at Shibe Park against the Chicago Cardinals (he totaled 98 yards on 26 rushes). In all, he had 93 rushing attempts (tied for third most, with Duce Staley, in team postseason history) for 365 yards on the ground, accumulated over four playoff games (3.9-yard average gain).

Van Buren was a consensus 1st team All-NFL selection four times during his career, and received 1st or 2nd team recognition after three other seasons. He was named as an offensive back on the All-Time Eagles team selected in 1965, running back on the 75th Anniversary Eagles All-Time team, and is a member of the Eagles’ Honor Roll. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965, was named to the 1940s NFL All-Decade team and to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team.

Accumulated injuries finally wore Van Buren down in 1950, and while he led the league in rushing attempts for the fourth consecutive season with 188, his yardage total dropped to 629. More injuries followed in ’51, and he retired after suffering a devastating knee injury during training camp in 1952.

Steve Van Buren set the standard for all power runners who have followed. A quiet guy who let his play on the field speak for him, he more than filled a chapter in the Eagles’- and NFL’s - history.

Steve Van Buren’s career record:

RUSHING

Year
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
G
9
10
9
12
11
12
10
10
Att.
80
143
116
217
201
263
188
112
Yds.
444
832
529
1008
945
1146
629
327
Avg.
5.6   
5.8   
4.6
4.6
4.7
4.4
3.3
2.9 
TD
5
15
5
13
10
11
4
6

PASS RECEIVING

Year
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
G
9
10
9
12
11
12
10
10
Rec.
0
10
6
9
10
4
2
4
Yds.
0
123
75
79
96
88
34
28
Avg.
0
12.3
12.5
8.8
9.6
22.0
17.0
7.0   
TD
0
2
0
0
0
1
0
0

PUNT RETURNS

Year
1944
1945
1946
G
9
10
9
Ret.
15
14
5
Yds.
230
154
89
Avg.
15.3
11.0
17.8
TD
1
0
1

KICKOFF RETURNS

Year
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
G
9
10
9
12
11
12
10
Ret.
8
13
11
13
14
12
5
Yds.
266
373
319
382
292
288
110
Avg.
33.3
28.7
29.0
29.4
20.9
24.0
22.0
TD
1
1
0
1
0
0
0





« Last Edit: May 31, 2009, 07:06:53 PM by Fan_Since_64 »
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Fan_Since_64

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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2009, 11:07:58 PM »

Other Eagles who wore #15:

Laf Russell (HB/DB, 1933)
Dick Lackman (HB/DB, 1933)
Osborne Willson (G, 1934-35)
Stumpy Thomason (HB/FB/DB/LB, 1936)
Bill Hughes (C, 1937)
Clem Woltman (T, 1938-40)
Lou Tomasetti (HB/DB, 1940-41)
Ted Laux (HB/DB, 1942-43)
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Drunkmasterflex

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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2009, 04:02:45 PM »

I met him once in a bar bathroom and he was wearing his HOF jacket.  There is no way he was ever 6'1".
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2009, 04:33:31 PM »

I met him once in a bar bathroom and he was wearing his HOF jacket.  There is no way he was ever 6'1".

Hall of Fame bio says 6'0".
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2009, 05:35:19 PM »

I'm finding with most of these players that sources differ on height and weight. I went with the Eagles Encyclopedia, which says 6'1", but upon further review Total Football II and the ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia both say 6'0". That seems to be the more widely published figure, so I've edited the text accordingly.

Thanks, the fact checking initiative is appreciated!  ;)
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Drunkmasterflex

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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2009, 05:52:29 PM »

Well the years and football have taken a toll on him because he was about my height and am 5 10
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2009, 07:10:43 PM »

Well the years and football have taken a toll on him because he was about my height and am 5 10

Loss of bone mass and aging could easily take 2 inches in height over the years.  Van Buren's 88 now.
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2009, 06:42:02 AM »

It was funny it was when the Bucs played the Raiders in the SB and he was wearing an Eagles hat I asked him "How pissed are you the Eagles didn't go to the SB?" He said "I played for the Eagles." Then he told me to come over to his table and he would give me an autograph. 
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2009, 01:36:59 PM »

Next to "Pistol Pete" he's my favorite Eagle.  Thx :yay
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2009, 12:21:44 PM »

Well the years and football have taken a toll on him because he was about my height and am 5 10

Loss of bone mass and aging could easily take 2 inches in height over the years.  Van Buren's 88 now.

I met him back at one of Buddies training camps (met Al Nelson too).  Definately less than 6' but still fairly "chiseled"
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ice grillin you

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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2009, 08:14:45 AM »

they really should just erase all existence of the nfl before say 1960
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2009, 01:09:41 PM »

What's so special about 1960? 1967 would make more sense, if this idea made any sense to begin with
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2009, 01:16:59 PM »

What's so special about 1960? 1967 would make more sense, if this idea made any sense to begin with

You're kidding, right?
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2009, 01:28:46 PM »

I've been told Championship games don't count; only Super Bowls
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Re: #15 - Steve Van Buren
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2009, 01:39:28 PM »

You clearly spend far too much time with taterskins fans.
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