From 1974 through 1990, Michael Lewis Webster, an American professional football player, played center for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs in the National Football League. He belongs to the 1997 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Webster, who passed away from a heart attack in 2002 at the age of 50, was the first former NFL player to be identified as having chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Since his passing, he has come to represent head injuries in the NFL as well as the ongoing discussion about player safety. His medical professionals believed that the numerous concussions he sustained over his career injured his frontal lobe and resulted in cognitive impairment.
Mike Webster Early Life
As the second of Webster’s six siblings, Mike Webster was born on March 18, 1952, in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. On a 640-acre potato farm close to Harshaw, Wisconsin was where Webster spent his childhood years.
Jim Taylor, the Green Bay Packers fullback, was Webster’s idol when he was a kid. Webster competed in wrestling while attending Rhinelander High School, winning awards. Webster didn’t start playing football until his junior year because of his obligations on his family’s farm.
In spite of Webster’s tardy entry into the sport, he rapidly mastered control of the offensive line and was awarded a football scholarship. Webster chose the University of Wisconsin-Madison as his next step after graduating in 1969.
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Mike Webster Career
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the majority of his career, Mike Webster was recognized as the best center in the Big Ten. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the fifth round of the 1974 NFL Draft at 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds.
After two years of backup center and guard work under the guidance of seasoned center Ray Mansfield, Webster was promoted to the starting center position in 1976 and held it for 150 straight games.
He spent nine years as the offensive captain of the Steelers. As he dislocated his elbow and missed four games in 1986, this came to an end.
After the 1988 season, Webster entered the free agent market. The Kansas City Chiefs signed him and first used him as an offensive line coach before letting him come back and serve as the team’s starting center. After a 17-year career that saw him play center in 245 games overall over that time, Webster spent two seasons with Kansas City before announcing his retirement on March 11 of that same year.
Mike Webster Personal Life
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurological condition, was confirmed as Webster’s cause of death.
Years after Webster’s death, Pamela, who was his wife, claimed that she felt responsible for the personality change in the years leading up to his passing, blamed herself for the divorce, and didn’t learn of Webster’s CTE diagnosis until after his death.
In his later years, Webster shared a home with his youngest son, Garrett, who had traveled from Wisconsin to Pittsburgh even though he was still a teenager at the time to take care of his father.
Mike Webster Net Worth
Playing in the NFL for 17 years was the main source of Webster’s wealth. Mike Webster made $400,000 in his final season with The Chiefs. Mike Webster’s estimated net worth was $10,000 at the time of his passing, notwithstanding this.
Mike’s estate and family sued the NFL following his passing. Almost $1.6 million (plus interest and costs) was granted to Webster’s estate in 2005.