Mike Webster Passes Away

The Pittsburgh Steelers franchise suffered a loss more painful and disheartening than any game played on the turf. Hall of Fame center Mike Webster died this morning at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh of a heart attack. He was 50 years young.

The 4-time Super Bowl champion played in every game for 10 consecutive seasons, from 1976-85. "Iron Mike" was 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.

"Mike's toughness and unswerving dedication to excellence, often hidden by his quiet demeanor, inspired all who knew him,'' said John Bankert, executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Although Dermontti Dawson may eventually be considered the greatest center in Steeler history, Webster is considered the blue print of the modern center. He holds Steeler career records for most seasons played (15), most games played (220), and most consecutive games played (177).

Although he finished his career as a Kansas City Chief in 1989 after 17 seasons, Webster entered the Hall of Fame as a Pittsburgh Steeler and was presented by Terry Bradshaw. In one memorable moment at the ceremony, Bradshaw took center one last time behind Webster.

Webster mastered the ability to pull and trap, the staple of Chuck Noll's running game. His incredible blocking skills helped pave the way for Hall of Fame runner Franco Harris and the legendary Rocky Bleier. "He was very smart, a great technician,'' Noll said of him.

It was only after his glorious career that Webster began to suffer personal tragedy. He was diagnosed in 1999 of brain damage caused by several concussions sustained on the playing field. Doctors explained that the condition would progressively worsen, causing him to lose concentration and focus. He made front page news in Pittsburgh when it was discovered that he had been forging his signature to obtain Ritalin. He pleaded "no contest" and was placed on 5 years probation in September of that 1999.

He was drafted in the 5th round out of Wisconsin in 1974, the same draft that saw the Steelers select Hall of Famers Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Jack Lambert.

Mike was considered to be the strongest player among the vaunted Super Teams of the 70's, winning the 1980 Ironman competition.

Mike Webster was born on March 18th, 1952, in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

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