Coraopolis is a suburb of Pittsburgh just west of the metropolitan airport. Just over the horizon is the site of the total NFL domination in the 70's and 80's of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Steel Curtain. Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert etc. are all legends that live on in the lore of Steelers football. All have gone on to fame and fortune and a great life after football. All that is except perhaps the greatest Steeler of them all, Mike Webster.
"Iron Mike" was a 4-time Super Bowl champion and played in every game for 10 consecutive seasons, from 1976-85. He was a six-time All-Pro selection and held the distinction of being the Team Captain for 9 straight seasons. Webster was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary team in 1994 and the NFL Insider's All-Time Dream Team in 2000.
Webster, originally a fifth round draft pick in 1974, went on to be the player that set the standard for centers in the National Football League and is still respected and admired by players today.
Mike, however, developed many health problems. Tragically, he passed away on Tuesday at the age of 50. Webster died from complications of a heart attack that had initially struck him three nights earlier while he was watching his son, Garrett, play football for Moon Area High School in a game at New Castle.
Perhaps Hall of Fame QB Terry Bradshaw summed up Mike Webster best when he said "I would have given anything to have been with Mike last week and asked him to bend that beautiful butt over one last time and let me put my hands under the greatest center of all time. I'm sure up in heaven, Johnny U. is doing it for me."
Although Mike Webster's death was incredibly sad, this article was not to be about him. It was meant to be about his youngest son. However, the timing has made it necessary to detail Mike's life as it has so affected his son Garrett.
So Garrett Webster has always drawn attention due to his NFL Hall of Fame father. However, his concerns were far greater than football as Garrett has basically taken care of his father for quite some time as his mother has moved out of the area.
But Garrett Webster also draws a great deal of attention due to his size. His coach at Moon Area High School, Mark Capuano, told my friend, The Shadow, "Garrett is 6-9 and 340 pounds." The coach added that "Webster hasn't spent much time in the weight room yet and only benches 325 and squats 500. But taking care of his father and maintaining good grades in school doesn't leave him as much time to train as other athletes have."
Garrett is fully qualified with a 1050 SAT score.
When my Dark Friend asked Capuano what schools were interested in Webster, he responded, "Iowa is one of many schools that Garrett is hearing from. Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Penn State are also sending Webster a lot of literature", added Mark.
"He is a good pass blocker and pretty good run blocker. Garrett has quick feet and runs very well for his immense size. I would say that he probably runs a 5.2-5.3 forty. Most of his weight is in his upper body, including a massive chest and shoulders" said Capuano.
Certainly Webster has already shown a level of maturity far beyond his biological age. He has had to deal with problems that many of us don't have to face until much later in life. Perhaps he could use the emotional support and fatherly guidance of fellow Pittsburgh native Kirk Ferentz at Iowa. It would be easy to understand why Webster could want to play away from home and the painful memories of this year.