Draft Day Minus 7: Mike Webster was the 7th Best Draft Pick Ever

Mike Webster lived as a great center on a great team and died as the canary in the coal mine.

Mike Webster originally symbolized the greatness and the toughness of the great Steeler teams of the 1970s and helped change Pittsburgh from one of the worst-run franchises in the NFL to perhaps the single best franchise. In both cases, I refer to status over time. From the thirties to the seventies the Steelers rivaled the Cardinals as the worst organization, and from the seventies and continuing today, the Steelers have been the best organization.

Unfortunately, for his second act, Webster became the canary in the coal mine. He was patient zero in the discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the football-related disease that destroys the brains of boys and men who play the game. The NFL continues to fight a public relations battle to discredit the link between football and CTE, but time is not on the league’s side. The scientific evidence is overwhelming, and the chain of victims, Webster, Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, Dwight Clark, Cookie Gilchrist, Andre Waters, and on and on, breaks one’s heart. Autopsies performed on one hundred eleven former players found evidence of CTE in one hundred ten of them. There is a much longer list of former players who are living with signs of CTE-related brain damage, but there is no test yet that reveals CTE in a living brain. The gray area in seeing the damage in the gray matter allows the NFL to deny the link between football and CTE, but it amounts to wishful thinking by NFL owners.

On the field, Webster was a great football player and a great draft pick. In my scoring system, he is only one of eight players to reach six hundred points. Only two players ever won more Super Bowls than Mike Webster, Tom Brady with six, and Charles Haley with five, and all it cost Webster was his mental health first, and then his life.

Rank N/Y Team Last Name First Name P College PTS AY DY AG DG SB1 SB2 SB3 SB4 HOF ADCS
7 12574 Pittsburgh Webster Mike OC Wisconsin 7 17 15 245 220 17 17 17 17 50 622
8 8676 Los Angeles Slater Jackie OG Jackson State 5 20 20 259 259 1 0 0 0 50 614
9 1700 Oakland Janikowski Sebastian KK Florida State 1 18 17 284 268 1 0 0 0 0 589
10 185 Buffalo Smith Bruce DE Virginia Tech 1 19 15 279 217 1 1 1 1 50 585
11 688 Los Angeles Brown Tim WR Notre Dame 1 17 16 255 240 1 0 0 0 50 580
12 2696 Baltimore Lewis Ray LB Miami (FL) 2 17 17 228 228 17 17 0 0 50 576
13 2783 Miami Marino Dan QB Pittsburgh 2 17 17 242 242 1 0 0 0 50 571
14 1880 Washington Monk Art WR Syracuse 1 16 14 224 205 16 1 16 16 50 559
15 1790 Dallas Smith Emmitt RB Florida 1 15 13 226 201 15 15 15 0 50 551
16 1278 Cleveland Matthews Clay LB USC 1 19 16 278 232 0 0 0 0 0 546
16 590 San Diego Seau Junior LB USC 1 19 13 261 200 1 1 0 0 50 546
16 1767 Oakland Upshaw Gene OT Texas A & I 1 15 15 217 217 1 15 15 0 50 546
19 8685 Buffalo Reed Andre WR Kutztown State 5 16 15 234 221 1 1 1 1 50 545
19 4093 New York Strahan Michael DE Texas Southern 2 15 15 216 216 1 15 15 0 50 545
21 4169 Atlanta Van Note Jeff OC Kentucky 14 18 18 246 246 0 0 0 0 0 542
22 2895 Tampa Bay Brooks Derrick LB Florida State 2 14 14 224 224 14 0 0 0 50 542
23 198 Indianapolis Manning Peyton QB Tennessee 1 17 14 265 208 17 1 1 17 0 541
24 1397 Kansas City Gonzalez Tony TE California 1 17 12 270 190 0 0 0 0 50 540
25 7093 Denver Elam Jason PT Hawaii 4 16 14 252 220 16 16 0 0 0 538
26 1378 Atlanta Kenn Mike OT Michigan 1 17 17 251 251 0 0 0 0 0 537
26 5370 Pittsburgh Blount Mel DB Southern (LA) 3 14 14 200 200 14 14 14 14 50 537
28 2373 Oakland Guy Ray PT Southern Mississippi 2 14 14 207 207 14 14 14 0 50 536
29 6697 Tampa Bay Barber Ronde DB Virginia 4 16 16 241 241 16 0 0 0 0 534
30 18998 Chicago Mannelly Patrick OT Duke 10 16 16 245 245 1 0 0 0 0 533
31 14200 Oakland Lechler Shane PT Texas A&M 8 18 13 286 206 1 0 0 0 0 532
32 7968 Oakland Shell Art OT Maryland-Eastern Shore 4 15 15 207 207 15 15 0 0 50 528
33 28979 Washington Coleman Monte LB Central Arkansas 15 16 16 215 215 16 1 16 16 0 526
34 5181 New Orleans Jackson Rickey LB Pittsburgh 3 15 13 227 195 15 0 0 0 50 518
35 275 Dallas White Randy DT Maryland 1 14 14 209 209 1 14 1 0 50 513
36 6903 Dallas Witten Jason TE Tennessee 4 15 15 239 239 0 0 0 0 0 512
37 1003 Baltimore Suggs Terrell DE Arizona State 1 16 16 229 229 16 0 0 0 0 507
38 7668 Houston Bethea Elvin OT North Carolina A&T 4 16 16 210 210 0 0 0 0 50 506
39 8379 San Francisco Montana Joe QB Notre Dame 5 15 13 192 167 15 15 15 15 50 502
40 304 Arizona Fitzgerald Larry WR Pittsburgh 1 15 15 234 234 1 0 0 0 0 500
41 174 Dallas Jones Ed DE Tennessee State 1 15 15 224 224 1 15 1 0 0 496
41 9298 Pittsburgh Ward Hines WR Georgia 5 14 14 217 217 14 14 1 0 0 496
43 1104 Pittsburgh Roethlisberger Ben QB Miami (OH) 1 15 15 216 216 15 15 1 0 0 494
44 469 Pittsburgh Greene Joe DT North Texas 1 13 13 181 181 13 13 13 13 50 491
45 168 Minnesota Yary Ron OT USC 1 15 14 207 199 1 1 1 1 50 490
46 10072 Oakland Dalby Dave OC UCLA 5 14 14 205 205 14 14 14 0 0 485
47 2071 Los Angeles Youngblood Jack DE Florida 1 14 14 202 202 1 0 0 0 50 484
48 4694 Dallas Allen Larry OG Sonoma State 3 14 13 203 187 13 0 0 0 50 483
48 16680 Detroit Murray Eddie KK Tulane 9 19 12 250 174 19 0 0 0 0 483
50 3280 Baltimore Donaldson Ray OC Georgia 2 17 12 244 184 17 0 0 0 0 476
51 30267 New York J Rasmussen Randy OG Nebraska-Kearney 16 15 15 207 207 15 0 0 0 0 475
52 685 Detroit Brown Lomas OT Florida 1 18 10 263 164 18 0 0 0 0 474
53 2378 Cleveland Newsome Ozzie TE Alabama 2 13 13 198 198 0 0 0 0 50 474
54 170 Pittsburgh Bradshaw Terry QB Louisiana Tech 1 14 14 168 168 14 14 14 14 50 471
55 475 Chicago Payton Walter RB Jackson State 1 13 13 190 190 13 0 0 0 50 470
56 5001 Detroit Raiola Dominic OC Nebraska 3 14 14 219 219 0 0 0 0 0 469
56 8274 Pittsburgh Stallworth John WR Alabama A&M 5 14 14 165 165 14 14 14 14 50 469

 

Key:

Rank:     Where the player ranks among all draft picks taken in the Super Bowl era.

N/Y:       The draft pick number and year. Mike Webster was the 125th pick taken in 1974 (12574).

Team:

Player:

Pos:       Position

School:

PTS:       All picks chosen between 1 and 20 gain the team one point if the player makes the team.  Every twenty picks add one more point. Pittsburgh earned 6 points because they took Webster 125th.

DY:         All years played for the team that drafted the player.

AG:        All games played in the NFL.

DG:        All games played for the team that drafted the player.

SB1:       Every time a player wins a Super Bowl ring, the team gets one point for every year of that player’s NFL service.  The Steelers scored 68 points because Webster played in 4 Super Bowls.  Since Tom Brady played in nine Super Bowls, his chart goes from SB1 to SB9.

HOF:      The team earns 50 points if their pick makes the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

ADCS:    The total points a team earned for choosing a given player. If the draft pick never plays in the NFL, the team scores a zero. 6 other players earned as high or higher scores than Mike Webster.

 

*The actual draft score belongs to the team that drafted the player. Even though Eli Manning won two Super Bowls with the Giants, he was actually drafted by the Chargers, so the Chargers get the credit for drafting him. If Manning achieved his career in a Chargers’ uniform, San Diego/Los Angeles would have gotten a higher score for drafting him.

The Answer to today’s trivia question. Can you name the 6 players who won 4+ Super Bowl rings as players with two or more different franchises?

Rank First Name Last Name Rings Teams
1 Charles Haley 5 49ers Cowboys
2 Marv Fleming 4 Packers Dolphins
2 Ted Hendricks 4 Colts Raiders
2 Matt Millen 4 Raiders 49ers Redskins
2 Adam Vinatieri 4 Patriots Colts
2 Bill Romanowski 4 49ers Redskins

 

 

 

 

 

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