Mike Webster's son wishes Pittsburgh Steelers had reached out about Noll Foundation

A.J. Perez
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Mike Webster

The announcement of the creation of The Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research lacked any mention of the one player Noll coached whose death sparked a decade-plus examination of how the NFL handles head injuries.

Steelers President Art Rooney II said Thursday he plans to reach out to Garrett Webster, Steelers spokesperson Burt Lauten told USA TODAY Sports.

"If Garrett Webster would like to get together to talk about the Foundation, Art II would be happy to do so," Lauten said.

Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster was the first NFL player diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after his death in 2002 at age 50, a revelation that was the focus of the 2015 movie Concussion.

“We were not approached by the Steelers about this head injury foundation,” Garrett Webster, Mike Webster’s son, told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. “We have absolutely nothing against Chuck Noll. I think if the Steelers had reached out it would healed the divide between families like ours.”

Steelers contributed a $1 million initial donation to The Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury, which will support research and education related to sports-related concussions, the team announced.

“Noll’s commitment to the well-being of his players ultimately led to the development of the ImPACT test (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) used by NFL team doctors since 2007, and now internationally used to help monitor concussions for athletes at all levels,” the Steelers said in the news release.

Garrett Webster said his family still holds Noll, who died in June 2014 at age 82, in high regard. But since little was known about traumatic brain injury at the time of his 23-year stint as the Steelers' head coach, Noll did what all the other coaches did at the time when it came to concussed players.

“My dad wasn’t taken out of the game,” Garrett Webster said. “Coaches forced guys to play in these conditions.”

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