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Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren dies at 91

Hall of Fame running back Steve Van Buren, who joined the NFL in 1944 and was named to the league’s 75th Anniversary Team in 1994, has died at the age of 91.

“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 owners Jeffrey Lurie said in a release.  “He was a friend and an inspiration to generations of fans, and the model of what an Eagle should be.”

He spent all of his eight NFL seasons with the Eagles, finishing with 5,860 yards.  He is the only member of the franchise to ever lead the NFL in rushing — and he did it four times.

Van Buren, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965, also holds the highest single-season punt-return average in team history with 15.5 yards, the franchise’s highest career kickoff-return average with 26.7 yards, and the Eagles’ top single-game rushing yardage performance with 205.  In 2011, LeSean McCoy broke Van Buren’s 66-year-old single-season touchdown record of 18.  (McCoy finished the season with 20 touchdowns.)

Van Buren is survived by three daughters, 16 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.

We extend our condolences to Van Buren’s family, teammates, and colleagues.

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38 Responses to “Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren dies at 91”
  1. phillyphever says: Aug 23, 2012 11:17 PM

    Still to this day the greatest player in franchise history (White and Bednarik round up the top 3).

  2. lilrob10201 says: Aug 23, 2012 11:20 PM

    R.I.P,All-Time great Eagle.He was apart of the Eagles 1948 and 1949 championship team.He will be missed.

  3. sosuhme says: Aug 23, 2012 11:24 PM

    I’m wondering if a history of concussions is to blame?

  4. dannythebisforbeast says: Aug 23, 2012 11:37 PM

    My uncle used to talk about Van Buren all the time, about how great he was. Miss those stories

  5. 4ever85 (aka Butch DeadLift) says: Aug 23, 2012 11:39 PM

    I was going to make Seinfeld reference, but if Florio can resist, so can I…

  6. youhavenoclue says: Aug 23, 2012 11:41 PM

    Mr. Eagle may you R.I.P.

  7. vbe2 says: Aug 23, 2012 11:44 PM

    RIP #15

  8. red98 says: Aug 23, 2012 11:56 PM

    RIP Steve Van Buren. Not all NFL players die young.

  9. thephillynut says: Aug 24, 2012 12:07 AM

    Wow, what a great life he lead. And an amazing career as an Eagle. You made us proud. RIP!

  10. kregaway says: Aug 24, 2012 12:13 AM

    He must have died because of concussions

  11. thenewenglandpatriots12 says: Aug 24, 2012 12:16 AM

    R.i.p to this legendary running back

  12. stan97 says: Aug 24, 2012 12:17 AM

    RIP, Steve.

  13. jacobslatter says: Aug 24, 2012 12:17 AM

    He will miss the December 21, 2012 beginning of the Era of Enlightenment. ♪This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…♪

  14. handsofsweed says: Aug 24, 2012 12:20 AM

    Truly a name that will echo through the Hall forever.

    I managed to find his 1948 Bowman card that provided the pic in this article at a going out of business sale a shop was having about a decade ago. I snatched it up quick. You never know when you’ll find such an awesome piece of old-school, badass history again.

    Back to back World Champ. RIP.

  15. philadelphiafan says: Aug 24, 2012 12:29 AM

    One of the best to ever put on the kelly green. RIP.

  16. mancave001 says: Aug 24, 2012 12:48 AM

    Lots office from Eagles Nation. RIP.

  17. pugdog1228 says: Aug 24, 2012 1:03 AM

    An incredible man, and an incredible life. The world lost one of the last truly great men. The embodiment of class
    . E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES…. One for the road my friend!

  18. raysfan1 says: Aug 24, 2012 1:09 AM

    One of the best ever, 2 thousand- yard seasons at a time when they were rare, a career 4.4 yards per carry average, and of course played both ways.

    RIP, you are not forgotten.

  19. electionconfidential says: Aug 24, 2012 1:16 AM

    My deepest condolences to Steve’s family.

  20. yssupasigninnamnotyep says: Aug 24, 2012 1:17 AM

    R.I.P Steve…he was a fantastic player and a great man.

    And to live until the ripe old age of 91…with all the hits he took over his career that doesn’t give much credence to the whole concussion debate, now does it?

    It only proves what science has always told us…we are all different in our own way.

  21. Neftali Ramos says: Aug 24, 2012 1:43 AM

    Not only was he a great Eagle he was a great player period. Real fans of the game should research the men who made the NFL into the juggernaut it is today. Rest in peace Mr. Van Buren.

  22. cheers4ablumpkin says: Aug 24, 2012 1:53 AM


  23. edtiley says: Aug 24, 2012 2:28 AM

    I don’t really know why but I’ve had this picture of Steve Van Buren on my laptop’s desktop for about five years. Reminds me of the days of SVB, Norm Snead, Sam Huff, and my favorite player of all time Sonny Jurgensen.

    It was one of the best days of Van Buren’s career.



  24. phillyphann83 says: Aug 24, 2012 3:27 AM

    You forgot to include that Van Buren led the Eagles to two(2) NFL titles, or do you subscribe to the fact that all championships won before the “Super Bowl” gimmick don’t count?

  25. sloiggles says: Aug 24, 2012 3:38 AM

    wow. One of, if not THE, greatest Eagles to ever wear a NFL uniform. RIP sir. Hopefully this current team can make the lost loved ones close to the team and city smile.

  26. joetoronto says: Aug 24, 2012 4:43 AM

    Steve Van Buren was one of the toughest players to ever walk the earth.

    They don’t make them like that anymore.


  27. nokoolaidcowboy says: Aug 24, 2012 5:12 AM

    That photograph is about as old school as you can get. Way before my time but he must have been something to watch back in the day. RIP.

  28. mungman69 says: Aug 24, 2012 7:01 AM

    91, now that’s a good number.

  29. tpa43 says: Aug 24, 2012 7:23 AM

    A true nfl legend

  30. dawkphan says: Aug 24, 2012 7:47 AM

    I was lucky enough to have met him about 10 yrs ago, at a fundraising function. He was a True Gentleman and bled Eagles Green. May he rest in peace, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his Family and Friends. The Eagles will never see another like him.

  31. paulsmith107 says: Aug 24, 2012 8:56 AM

    Amazing how old school football players live so long but the steroid age players off themselves. Hmmmm prolonged steroid use does put you into depression but we will continue to blame it on concussions. Grown ass men who don’t take any responsibility for the steroids they used or the fact they wouldn’t sit out a game cause their bell was rung lol.

  32. djspman says: Aug 24, 2012 8:58 AM

    The Greatest Player that Played for the NFL, And he played for nothing and got nothing in return from the NFL.

    There will never be a player as committed to the game as Steve Van Buren, He played the game because he loved the competition and the game.

    R.I.P. Steve

  33. fatguystrangler says: Aug 24, 2012 9:05 AM

    R.I.P. to a football great.

  34. nesportsfan0428 says: Aug 24, 2012 9:15 AM

    “Van Buren is survived by three daughters, 16 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.”

    May we all be fortunate enough to see 3 generations of our family. First RB to win three consecutive rushing titles, starting the very exclusive club.

  35. sufferingbirdsfan says: Aug 24, 2012 9:31 AM

    Legendary player and a very nice man that I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure to meet. RIP Steve.

  36. hokiegajanisgod says: Aug 24, 2012 9:59 AM

    Size, speed, power; Van Buren was the best RB of his, or an era. It’s a shame more NFL fans don’t appreciate the rich history of the league.

    He also must be the only player from the beautiful nation of Honduras to be inducted to the HOF.

  37. CKL says: Aug 24, 2012 11:51 AM

    Thy had a nice tribute to him on NFLN this morning too where they detailed how he had a stroke and was determined to be able to walk again by the time the Eagles had a ceremony honoring their championship teams. He made it with bells on. He was obviously an amazing man and amazing player. RIP.

  38. igotsanduskied says: Aug 24, 2012 3:26 PM

    I believe he set that TD record (18) in only 12 games, yet it stood for 66 years! And McCoy took 15 to get to 20! Wow!

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