Steve Van Buren

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Steve Van Buren
Waist-up black and white photo of American football player (Steve van Buren), wearing jersey no. 15 and an old-fashioned leather without a facemask, cradling a football in his right arm and running directly at the camera.
No. 15
Position: Halfback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1920-12-28)December 28, 1920
Place of birth: La Ceiba, Honduras
Date of death: August 23, 2012(2012-08-23) (aged 91)
Place of death: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
High school: New Orleans (LA)
Warren Easton
College: LSU
NFL draft: 1944 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing: 5,860 yards, 69 touchdowns
Average: 4.4 yards per carry
Kick returns: 2,503 yards, 5 touchdowns
Receiving: 523 yards, 3 touchdowns
Interceptions: 9
Player stats at PFR

Stephen Wood Van Buren (December 28, 1920 − August 23, 2012) was an American professional football halfback who played for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL) for eight seasons, from 1944 through 1951. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in La Ceiba, Honduras, Van Buren was orphaned at age ten and was sent to live with relatives in New Orleans, Louisiana.[2] There he attended Warren Easton High School, and tried out for the football team originally as a sophomore, but did not make the team.[3][4] Later that year he dropped out of high school and went to work in an iron foundry.[4] He returned to high school two years later and made the team as an end his senior year.[4] He played well enough that season to earn an athletic scholarship to Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge.[3]

College career[edit]

At LSU, he was used primarily for blocking until his senior season, when head coach Bernie Moore moved him to tailback because of a lack of players due to World War II conscription.[5] Van Buren received a Class IV-F exemption due to an eye defect, and so was able to avoid conscription.[5] He began the 1943 season by scoring four touchdowns in a 34–27 win over Georgia, including the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes left to play.[6] His final game was the 1944 Orange Bowl against Texas A&M, in which he ran for two touchdowns and threw for one more to give LSU a 19–14 victory.[7] He finished the season with 847 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.[5][8] He also led the nation with 98 points scored (110 including the bowl game).[2][5][3]

Professional career[edit]

Philadelphia Eagles[edit]

The fifth overall pick of the 1944 NFL draft, Van Buren 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. In 1945, Van Buren led the NFL in rushing for the first time, and also led the league in scoring and kickoff return yards.[3] That season he set an Eagles single-season record with 15 rushing touchdowns, which stood until 2011.[9] He won three additional rushing titles in 1947, 1948, and 1949, becoming the first running back in NFL history to achieve three consecutive rushing titles. Jim Brown (twice), Earl Campbell, and Emmitt Smith have since managed that feat. All four are in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.[10] In 1948, he scored the 50th touchdown of the Eagles' season, setting the record for most touchdowns scored in a season.

1948 NFL Championship game[edit]

Van Buren's signature game came in 1948 on December 19. Playing in a blizzard for the NFL championship against the Chicago Cardinals, Van Buren scored the only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles their first league title. Ironically, he almost missed the game at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Thinking the game wouldn't be played in the blizzard, he remained home until Eagles head coach 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.[citation needed] The Eagles won their second championship the next year against the Rams in the mud in Los Angeles, as Van Buren set a league record with 196 yards rushing.[3]

Retirement[edit]

After a knee injury before the 1952 season, Van Buren retired as the NFL record holder for career rushing yards and career rushing touchdowns.[2] He broke Clarke Hinkle's record of 3,860 yards on October 3, 1949 when he rushed for 135 yards on 33 attempts and scoring two touchdowns in a 22–14 win over the Detroit Lions. He also scored three times returning kickoffs, three times on receptions, and twice on punt returns for a total of 77 touchdowns. Van Buren retired as the first and only player to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season twice, the first player to rush for over 10 touchdowns in a season (accomplishing the feat 3 times), and he held the top 2 single-season records in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

Professional statistics[edit]

Year G Rushing Punt returns Kickoff returns
Att Yds TD Lng Avg Ret Yds TD Lng Avg Ret Yds TD Lng Avg
1944 9 80 444 5 70 5.6 15 230 1 55 15.3 8 266 1 97 33.3
1945 10 143 832 15 69 5.8 14 154 0 24 11.0 13 373 1 98 28.7
1946 9 116 529 5 58 4.6 5 89 1 50 17.8 11 319 0 63 29.0
1947 12 217 1,008 13 45 4.6 13 382 1 95 29.4
1948 11 201 945 10 29 4.7 14 292 0 34 20.9
1949 12 263 1,146 11 41 4.4 12 288 0 35 24.0
1950 10 188 629 4 41 3.3 5 110 0 26 22.0
1951 10 112 327 6 17 2.9
Career 83 1,320 5,860 69 70 4.4 34 473 2 55 13.9 76 2,030 3 98 26.7

Honors[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Van Buren lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania after his football career. He died of pneumonia on August 23, 2012, in Lancaster at the age of 91.[11]

See also[edit]

Video[edit]

  • You Tube - Remembering Steve Van Buren - Pro Football Hall of Fame

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bunch, Will (August 24, 2012). "Obituary: One of the great Eagles, Steve Van Buren, dead at 91". Philly.com. Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren dies". ESPN. Philadelphia, PA: Associated Press. August 24, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "STEVE VAN BUREN". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Litsky, Frank (August 24, 2012). "Steve Van Buren, 91, dies; Hall of Fame halfback". New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved January 29, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d Vincent 2008, p. 57.
  6. ^ Vincent 2008, p. 54.
  7. ^ Vincent 2008, p. 55.
  8. ^ "Steve Van Buren Stats". Sports Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Mind-blowing stats for the Philadelphia Eagles". NFL.com. July 25, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Steve Van Buren". nfl.com. Retrieved 2013-12-15. 
  11. ^ "Legendary RB Van Buren Passes". philadelphiaeagles.com. August 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-23. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Vincent, Herb (2008). LSU Football Vault: The History of the Fighting Tigers. Whitman Publishing, LLC. ISBN 0794824285. 

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by
Clarke Hinkle
NFL Career Rushing Yards Leader
1949–1958
Succeeded by
Joe Perry