The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most historically successful franchise’s in all of sports. The physicality the Steelers play with today, can be attributed to those dominant teams in the 1970s. They set the stage for what it means to play a physical brand of football.
Steelers’ former center and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Mike Webster, was the definition of toughness. Initially drafted by the team in the 5th round of the 1974 draft. Webster only started two games for the Steelers’ offensive line in his first two years and then when he came became the starter at the end of the 1975 season, he never looked back. He would go on to start every game from that point on until the 1986 season.
His strength earned Webster the nickname of “Iron Mike,” but he is also the football world’s best known “Iron Man,” because he seemingly never missed time.
Where Does Steelers’ C Mike Webster Rank Among All Other Centers in NFL History?
In a recent article published by ESPN, the sports outlet surveyed 50 experts from reporters to analysts to name the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T) players at each position. Webster was included as the greatest of all time center, receiving 30% of all votes.
What makes Webster the greatest center of all time?
“In his first two NFL seasons, Webster split time at center with Ray Mansfield, but he started the final game of the 1975 season and didn’t miss a start after that until 1986, when he suffered an elbow injury,” writer Jeff Legwold wrote in the article. “A team captain in the Steelers’ dynasty that won four Super Bowls, Webster died in 2002 at age 50.”
What did some of the experts have to say about Webster’s impact?
“I gave the edge to Webster thanks to a perfect blend of championship titles, individual achievement and longevity,” Doug Clawson, voter on the list, stated. “He is the only offensive lineman in NFL history with four Super Bowl rings and at least four first-team All-Pro selections. Iron Mike made 150 consecutive starts and had the most games played in Steelers history (220) until Ben Roethlisberger passed him.”
“It’s hard to find a more complete resume than that of Webster, who became synonymous with Pittsburgh’s excellence during the Steel Curtain era,” reporter Jeremy Fowler stated in the article. “His consistency was impressive, and Webster was the total package.”
“An offense’s success and continuity depend greatly on the center position, which is usually overlooked,” ESPN‘s fantasy writer, Eric Moody prefaced in the article. “But Webster excelled at run- and pass-blocking and was the linchpin of the Steelers’ offensive line due to his excellent play strength and quickness.”
Another former Steelers’ center and legend Dermontti Dawson received 5 votes for the same recognition.
The anchor to the Steelers’ offensive line on those Super Bowl championship teams in the 1970s, Webster was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the the Class of 1997, just 5 years before his untimely death in 2002, due to a heart attack.