When the 2002 autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster revealed he had died of the brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, it was the first step in uncovering the widespread brain damage suffered by many NFL players.
After a long legal fight, the NFL agreed last year to pay a combined $1 billion to thousands of retired players who suffer from brain damage and their families, but Webster’s family hasn’t seen any of it, the New York Times reports .
Garrett Webster, Mike’s 33-year-old son, still lives in Pittsburgh, and told the Times he delivers pizzas to make ends meet.
While some players are eligible for up to $5 million, the NFL settlement prevented the families of those who died before 2006 from receiving compensation.
There is a provision that allows families of those who died before the cutoff to file a claim anyway, which the Websters have done.
“Iron Mike” Webster was a hall-of-fame center who played from 1974 to 1990, and won four Super Bowls with the Steelers.
His family is barely able to pay its bills. His ex-wife, Pam Webster, can’t afford a home, so she bounces across the country staying with friends and family, including Garrett, according to the Times.
The NFL has paid out about $150 million of the $1 billion settlement so far, the Times reported.
“It’s insane that we haven’t been paid because every suit uses my dad in their case,” Garrett Webster told the New York Times. “If Mike Webster doesn’t happen, this case doesn’t happen.”
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.