The first Eagle ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, running back Steve Van Buren, died of pneumonia Wednesday at the age of 91, the team announced.
“Watch those old films and you know that Steve Van Buren was something special,” said Andy Reid. “He was special in person, too, humble about his own accomplishments and encouraging to others. His memory will be with Eagles fans for as long as this team takes the field.”
Van Buren, who was residing in Lancaster, is survived by three daughters, 16 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
“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,” said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. “He was a friend and an inspiration to generations of fans, and the model of what an Eagle should be.”
Van Buren won the NFL rushing title four times, including three straight between 1947-49. He finished his career with 5,860 rushing yards and 77 TDs. The five-time all-pro was selected to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team in 1994. He was the NFL’s all-time rushing leader when he stepped away and is the only Eagle to finish a season as the NFL’s leading rusher.
He led the Eagles to three straight division titles and back-to-back championships in 1948 and 1949.
“Steve Van Buren is one of the all-time Eagles,” said Eagles president Don Smolenski. “He made his mark on the field, in the city of Philadelphia, and in the record books of the NFL. We honor the passing of one of our great ones.”