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High School Sports
Former Steelers great's son big guy with big plans

Sunday, September 15, 2002

By Mike White, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Everything about Garrett Webster seems big. First, there is his body. He is 6 feet 9, 340 pounds.

There is his appetite. "If I'm real hungry I can eat 25 or 28 pieces of pizza," Webster said, matter-of-factly.

Then there are the big expectations. They come from playing football and having a father known to Steeler Nation as "Iron Mike."

Garrett Webster is a senior offensive lineman at Moon Area High School. His father is Mike Webster, the former Steelers great and NFL Hall of Famer.

When Garrett Webster moved to the Pittsburgh area two years ago from Madison, Wis., he did so for two reasons -- to be with his father and to play high school football in Western Pennsylvania.

"I wanted to play big-time football," he said. "Football wasn't that big out there."

Webster left behind his mother and two sisters in Wisconsin. He has done fine at Moon, but one of the hardest parts is dealing with those big expectations -- just because of his name.

"Being associated with my dad is a great thing, and he helps me out a lot. But you get tired of it at points," Garrett Webster said. "Like when I have a good game or do something good, people always just say, 'Oh, that's because he's Mike Webster's son.' It's almost like I'm expected to be a certain way."

Garrett Webster has a uniqueness that makes it easy for him to establish his own identity. For starters, there is his size. He is one of the biggest players in the WPIAL. He might not be the most agile lineman, but his size has attracted interest from some Division I colleges.

Then there is his mouth. It's hard to fathom a high school athlete who talks like this Moon man. He is colorful and humorous one minute, provocative and controversial the next, sincere and brutally honest after that.

"I've never had a lot of friends because people were always afraid of me," Garrett Webster said.

He is proud and protective of his father.

"My Dad has some health problems no one knows about and that I don't want to get into that much," he said. "But he has some brain injuries from football. I have to take care of my Dad. There will be some mornings he can't get up from the couch because he feels so terrible."

Garrett Webster is critical of the Steelers because he doesn't believe the organization has treated his father with enough respect. Mike Webster played 15 seasons for the Steelers, made the Pro Bowl nine times and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton in 1997.

"But all you hear about from the Steelers is [former center] Dermontti Dawson," Garrett Webster said. "The heck with Dermontti Dawson. My dad was 15 times better than Dawson. Put that in the paper, too."

Dawson became the Steelers' center after Mike Webster's career with the team ended in 1988.

Garrett Webster said his father comes to some of Moon's games. Garrett Webster did not play the first two contests because of a sprained right knee.

The past two seasons, Moon Coach Mark Capuano has said Garrett Webster has plenty of potential but still has a lot of room for improvement. Webster doesn't want to hear those comments any longer.

"I know I'm a good lineman. All I need is a chance to prove that," he said. "[Moon lineman] A.Q. Shipley gets a lot of publicity and he deserves what he gets. But now that I'm back, all the attention is going to come to me. I'm coming back with a vengeance.

"I'm a team guy, but there's a simple fact that I like being in the newspaper. When I read articles in the newspaper, I'm looking for my name. There might not be an 'I' in the word team. But there is 'me' in team."

Garrett Webster believes he can play Division I college football. He said his best 40-yard dash time is 5.3 seconds.

"A lot of colleges say they want to wait until after this season to see how I do," he said. "I can bench-press 340 pounds. I don't squat as much as I should, but I think everyone has been selling me short. For a big guy, I think I move very good."

He has some interesting thoughts on many subjects.

On his favorite food: "Everything. There's not much I don't like, unless it has vegetables on it. I hate salads. When people ask me what I like on my salad, I tell them, 'A nice, big porterhouse steak.'"

On the best part of high school sports: "It's still one of the purest forms of sport. When you're out there on Friday night, there's nothing else that matters for that 2 1/2 or three hours. Then my favorite part is after games when it's just you and your buddies talking about the game."

On the worst part of high school sports: "Soccer. Those kids run 700 miles in a game to score one goal. Soccer players don't like me, but that sport is horrible. It's a cure for insomina."

On high school girls: "I don't have any. I wish I could think of something good to say to get some because I don't have any."

On his favorite player: "Randy Moss [of the Vikings]. He's said a lot of controversial things but that's OK because I don't like good guys. I like bad guys. I root for bad guys in movies. LaVar Arrington [of the Redskins] would probably be my second favorite. I love the way he plays, the way he flies around the field. I still remember him at Penn State picking fights with punters."

On his goals: "To just kill every team we play, and that's all the further I'm thinking. I know that's not nice to say, but I'm sick of everyone in newspapers praising the other team. I can't wait to play Hopewell this year. I hate Hopewell. You can put that on the front page, too. I know Webster is going to look like an idiot if we lose, but so what?"

Mike White can be reached at mwhite@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1975.

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