PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mike Webster was a crucial part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ legendary teams in the 1970s. But after his death, he became the first player to be diagnosed with the brain disease CTE caused by repeated blows to the head.
So why is his family not getting a dime of a billion dollar NFL concussion settlement?
“It was almost like we were deliberately left out of that settlement,” said Pam Webster, Mike’s ex-wife.
She and his son Garrett Webster, one of four siblings, say after football, it was difficult to watch the star Steeler unravel.
“As a son, it’s very difficult when you have to look after your dad more than having him look after you,” said Garrett.
“Seeing the decline in Mike, and still knowing he’s somebody’s hero, I think that was really hard,” said Pam.
They say it began with depression and anger. Later, forgetfulness and confusion. It got so bad that it affected the whole family.
“It doesn’t just affect the poor person diagnosed with it, and at that point, we didn’t know what was going on,” said Pam.
She cringes about when Webster was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997 because during his speech, she believes it was the first time his fans saw a glimpse of how he had deteriorated.
As portrayed in the movie “Concussion,” it was after his death that Webster became the first player to be diagnosed with CTE.
Despite that, Webster’s family is not part of a billion dollar NFL settlement for former players, even though their lawyer, Jason Luckasevic, says he knows what the other players say: “Every single one them would agree that the first person who should ever be paid is the Webster family.”
But the settlement has a cutoff date of 2006, and Webster died four years before that.
One of the lawyers who represented the players in the settlement tells the New York Times that if they hadn’t agreed to the 2006 cutoff date, many more players would face the same limitations as the Webster family.
The Websters don’t live the kind of life some of today’s players’ families might.
Garrett delivers pizzas. His mother can’t afford a home, so she travels and stays with friends and family.
If they were included in the settlement, they say they could qualify for $4 million.
And they say they will keep fighting. Not just for money, but for Mike.
“We deserve that and Mike deserves that,” said Pam. “More than anything, it’s not about me or what could happen, it’s his legacy.”