Saturday, October 18, 2014

The story behind Mike Webster, concussions, and Will Smith's movie set in Pittsburgh

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.
It’s a long and winding story, one that Jeanne Marie Laskas captured well for GQ in 2009.
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).
The movie
Football, brains and science
Mike Webster

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