Tag Archives: Mike Webster

Homer J.’s Annual Draft Analysis Post

2-1qnatp3by Homer J.

“Can’t act. Can’t sing. Can dance a little.”

That’s how the guy who gave Fred Astaire his Hollywood screen test rated the greatest hoofer of all time. Debussy’s timeless “Clair de Lune” was described as “ugly to the ears,” by the most respected Parisian critic of the time. “Fiddler on the Roof” was described as “nothing special” by the Variety stringer who reviewed its off-Broadway opening. And Rex Reed and most of the other jerks who review movies panned the greatest movie of all time, “A Christmas Story.” (They just hated producer Bob Clark, because he did those Porkys movies and Reed would never know what to do with a Red Ryder BB gun, anyway).

But my favorite review of all time was Vito Stellino’s review of the Pittsburgh Steelers 1974 draft in the Post-Gazette.

“The Steelers seem to have come out of the first five rounds of the draft appreciably strengthened at wide receiver but nowhere else. They didn’t get a tight end. They didn’t get a punter. They didn’t get an offensive tackle who might’ve shored up what could well become a weakness. What they did get was Swann, who seems to be a sure-pop to help; Lambert, who figures to be the No. 5 linebacker if he pans out; and three question marks.”

Guess he didn’t think much of that Stallworth kid or that 5th round pick out of Wisconsin, Mike Webster. Unquestionably the greatest draft of all time, with four future Hall of Famers, but one of the top football writers in the country wasn’t at all impressed.  Read more

The Archetypes of the Gridiron, and The Real Men on the Other Side

USA Today Sports photo

This article is by guest writer Andrew Swensen, a man I have gotten to know through the Pittsburgh Music Alliance, a cohort of five organizations, including mine, which he put together. The more I get to know him the more I find out about the vast range of his interests and knowledge. We happened to be talking before a meeting earlier this year and discovered we were thinking along similar lines in regards to sports figures. Here are his thoughts:

We love to tell stories. It is in our nature, and we do it all the time – even when we are not aware of it. Our lives become stories as we look for cause and effect, a beginning, middle, and end. On a smaller scale, particular days become a story for us, and a day becomes “good” or “bad” because of the story that we have made from events. This quality has been rooted in our play and our work since the time when we gathered around campfires to pass on our tribal history, and we continue it to this day.

Read more

The Impact of ‘Concussion’

concussionby Ivan Cole

Sometimes the essential message of a film can be condensed into one scene. There is such a moment in the latter moments of the movie Concussion.

Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) is in a ballroom addressing a crowd of the family members of NFL players that have succumbed to the effects of CTE, including the widow of former Pittsburgh Steeler Justin Strezelczyk. In one of those strokes of artistic license, Mike Webster (heartbreakingly channeled by David Morse) is in the audience as well.

“I don’t hate football. My wife has started watching it. I see the grace, the drama.

I once said I wished I had never met Mike Webster. I was wrong. He was committed, a captain, a warrior, quiet in his pain. He has given us a gift. The gift of knowing.

In the place I come from, we take care of our warriors, give respect to those with the power to heal them.

These men are not machines. Not commodity. Not video game figure. We loved them when they were heroes.

By dying they speak for the living. And I speak for them. That is all I do.

Forgive them. Forgive yourselves. Be at peace.”

He would also say that men come to professional football knowing they risk their long term physical health by doing so. We also now know the chances are high they may lose their minds and all that implies as well. And they need to know of that risk as well. Read more

A Growing Trauma—the Steelers and Concussions

AP Photo/John Froschauer

The past two weeks in the NFL have been quite the concussion-fest. There were 15 concussion reported on the NFL injury list for Week 11 and 23 reported in Week 12 (some of those were holdovers from Week 11, but most were new.)

And although the Week 13 list wasn’t out when I wrote this, we know of at least two—Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Shazier of the Steelers.

Of the multiple concussions in the Week 11 games, the one which garnered the most attention was the one in the Ravens-Rams games. In it, a clearly concussed Case Keenum was sent back into the game, presumably due to a combination of circumstances and failed safety checks. The referee who should have stopped the game instead sent the Rams’ trainers off the field, leaving Keenum to play a couple more downs. The NFL spotter was looking at heaven only knows what, because there was no way you could have seen Keenum go to the ground and lay there clutching his helmet with his hands and not insist he be looked at. Coach Jeff Fisher more or less implied it wasn’t his job to babysit his players. Read more