Reporting Rick Dayton
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He wore his dad’s trademark No. 52.
Now, Garrett Webster works for the Brain Injury Research Institute, a group that studies the impact of long-term neurological brain damage.
“The more you learn from every brain, the more it helps science,” Webster said. “(It helps) areas of treatment and areas of diagnoses that we haven’t even thought of yet.”
Webster’s group asked the family of linebacker Junior Seau to donate his brain to their research.
Seau was found dead on May 2 from a gunshot to the chest in an apparent suicide. He was 43 years old.
Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker in the NFL, playing for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. He played for 20 seasons, calling it a career in 2009.
The Seau family chose another organization in Boston instead.
“We believe our doctors are the best, they believe their doctors are the best,” Webster said. “That the brain’s going to be looked at, that’s No. 1.”
Webster’s father, Mike, played center for the Steelers and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. ‘Iron Mike’ was also the first player to be diagnosed with the CTE – chronic traumatic encephalopathy – a brain disease linked to multiple hits to the head.
“We want it cured yesterday,” Webster said. “We don’t want to see any families like my family. At the end of the day, that is the goal.”
If anyone understands the pain the Seau family is enduring, it’s Webster.
“They should not be going through this,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a terrible situation. You add in the suicide, you add in a guy who is taken 40 years before his time. “(It’s) a terrible positions for them to be in and my heart goes out to them.”