The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 17, 2014
Mike Webster in 1984 (AP/Al Golub)
The film in which Will Smith portrays Dr. Bennet Omalu features a story with deep Pittsburgh roots.
Mike Webster’s Hall of Fame career playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers boasted four Super Bowl titles, unrivaled strength and toughness and — afterward — health issues that led to an early death at age 50. It was Dr. Omalu who discovered severe brain damage in Webster at the Allegheny County coroner’s office.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first wrote of Webster’s health and financial problems in 1997. We dug the story out of our library and published it online for the first time. It’s an insightful read about the downward spiral that led to his early death and was likely caused or made worse by chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
Those letters are now all too familiar to the National Football League, but that has only become the case within the past decade.
This page is filled with links to Post-Gazette stories illustrating Pittsburgh’s connection to the story of the NFL and brain damage (and now the Will Smith movie filmed in and around the city).
David Morse cast as Steeler Mike Webster in Will Smith movie (Oct. 10, 2014)
New extras casting call on Oct. 18 for Will Smith movie (Oct. 7, 2014)
Filming in Pittsburgh, Will Smith football movie needs extras (Sept. 23, 2014)
Football, brains and science
Long-term brain damage at heart of huge NFL lawsuit (May 14, 2013)
Part 2: Scientists hunt for ways to untangle damage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (May 13, 2013)
Chris Henry's mother 'surprised' at findings (June 29, 2010)
Ron Cook: This game is serious (June 29, 2010)
Experts warn about repeated brain blows in football (June 28, 2010)
Update on concussions & the NFL (June 16, 2007)
Suicide ruling in Long's death hasn't ended controversy (Jan. 26, 2006)
Ron Cook: Webster's legacy is much greater today (Sept. 25, 2012)
1980 strong-man show portended steroids rage (Jan. 30, 2003)
200 offer final tribute to Steelers' Webster (Sept. 28, 2002)
Steelers Mike Webster at center of long line of excellence (Sept. 25, 2002)
Obituary: Mike Webster, Steelers Hall of Fame center, dies at 50 (Sept. 25, 2002)