Life works in a big wide circle. So this year, finally, another Philadelphian wins the Chuck Bednarik Award. His name is Tyler Matakevich. He’s beloved in the City of Brotherly Love. And he will go in the first round of the NFL draft. He’s a Temple Owl. The alpha of a parliament of owls. And he also seems to have the wisdom that is supposed to coincide with parliaments. His teammates look up to him. He is charming and funny and humble. He lights up local TV when he consents to an interview. It’s never about him. Always about his team and his family. An anachronism.
But make no mistake. He is a fearsome defensive player. He was named the best defensive player in the country. He won the Bronco Nagurski Award. Now the Bednarik. Also the Walter Camp Award and the AAC player of the year. He had 481 career tackles and is ninth all time on the NCAA career list. He is the seventh player all time to have four seasons over one hundred tackles.
What in the new lingo of our city is called Temple Tough. How this beleaguered team finally surmounted dozens of years of tragic history and thumped the hell out of the thugs of Penn State. (Don’t cavil. I was there just before the Paterno implosion when Penn Staters at the Link were screaming “nigger” at Temple players in their annual game.) Tyler is a Catholic boy. He said nothing about the Nittany bigots. He just did them in this fall. Thoroughly.