He helped Terry
Bradshaw. Mike knew every player's position on both teams. He knew every
offensive guy, but he also knew the defensive people. He would talk to Terry
after a play and say where the line splits were, where the defense was and what
running plays would work. It was a great help. Those were the days when a
quarterback called his own plays, which is something.
There are many
things to say about him. I enjoyed his company, especially when he was here
playing. There were many humorous times. We didn't have a facility like we
have now, with all of those weights downstairs. We just had some sort of a
Universal gym and Mike said, ‘I can't use that.' And I said ‘Why not?'
And he said ‘It's not big enough.' And he would go out to some gym and
lift. I think he lifted everything we had here, probably the Universal gym
himself. He was that kind of a guy.
He'd come and
talk to you and say what he wanted. I remember he came and wanted to borrow some
money and I said ‘For what?' And he said he's going into business, and I
said ‘What business?' And he said, ‘the worm business.' He had some idea
he was going to do this. But he would come and talk to you and ask you what
your ideas were. We're going to miss him a lot.
This, really, I
have to say was a tough year. We lost a lot of players who played for us. You
remember them, what they did, what they were like at the particular time.
Q: What were
the circumstances when he retired?
A: We did offer for him to stay and coach, but he didn't. He went over and played for Kansas City. They thought he would be a coach there. I talked to Bill Cowher about this this morning. He was there at the time, of course, and he said that they really had talked to him about being a coach and he wanted to play. It was obvious he did, so when they had some problems with their center – injuries and things like that – so Mike went over to do this.
Q: Have you
seen much of him in recent years?
A: I saw him at one of the events we had at the Great Hall at the stadium.
Q: In such
circumstances, questions about steroids are bound to come up. Do you have any
A: All I know is that Chuck Noll was very, very specific in that he did not believe that players should take steroids. He was very much against it, spoke often about it and I think (former offensive linemate) Tunch (Ilkin) will tell you that the players listened to him. That's all I would know about the situation. I know it was very much discouraged.
Q: Do you
have any stories about drafting him?
A: We just got him through the people who did our draft, starting with my brother. That draft is rated as probably the greatest draft in the history of the NFL. You look at the Hall of Famers from that draft, it's amazing.
He was a guy that
would spend a couple extra hours every night watching tape. He was the guy that
would come in two hours before we had to be here and start lifting weights. He
came back from his seventh Pro Bowl in a row and he'd be running stadium steps
at Three Rivers Stadium the first week back. His focus and his toughness, he
never missed. You know, they said he didn't miss a game in 10 years, I'm not
sure he missed a play in 10 years. When I came in in 1980, I was a back-up
center. And as a back-up center for a couple, three years, I never got on the
field, not one play. My rookie year, he hurt his knee against Kansas City late
in the season. He was on crutches till game time and he played in the game. He
was just amazing.
Q: How many
of your teammates have died?
A: Four of my teammates have passed away. Tyrone McGriff, Steve Furness, Webbie and Dan Turk. It's sad. It shows you the brevity of life.
Q: Did things
he did during his football career to keep playing possibly have caused an early
A: You know, he was a great player. He was just a guy who worked hard. I'm not a doctor. I don't know what contributed to it. You're sad for him and his children.
Q: Did he
drift away from you guys the last few years?
A: Yeah, a little bit.
Q: What will
be his legacy?
A: You know, to me, it will always be Webby's toughness, the way he was a mentor to all the younger guys, and the fact he was a guy also in the community. You forget he was the chairman of the Spina Bifida Foundation in Western Pennsylvania for I don't know how many years. Every year he had a Christmas party for the spina bifida kids. He'd bring out players on the team. He was a guy who was so willing to give of himself in the community and so willing to give of himself to his teammates. The toughness