Steve Van Buren, a Hall of Fame running back for the Eagles, died of pneumonia on Thursday, the team announced.
Mr. Van Buren was 91. He died in Lancaster, Pa. He 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,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said. “He was a friend and an inspiration to generations of fans, and the model of what an Eagle should be.”
Mr. Van Buren was a first-round draft pick of the Eagles in 1944 out of LSU. Behind Mr. Van Buren, the Eagles won back-to-back NFL gitles in 1948 and '49.
He was a five-time All-Pro and won the NFL rushing title four times. He had 5,860 rushing yards and 77 touchdowns.
He was the first Eagle elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Watch those old films and you know that Steve Van Buren was something special,” head coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “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.”
"Steve Van Buren is one of the all-time Eagles," Eagles president Don Smolenski said in a statement. "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."
Mr. Van Buren finished his career in 1951 as the NFL’s all-time rushing leader and currently ranks third on the Eagles all-time list. He is the only Eagle to ever finish a season as the league's top rusher.
He still holds the Eagles' single-game record for rushing with 205 yards, which he did against Pittsburgh in 1949. He owns another club record, with most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown. He did that eight tines in 1947.