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Steelers Mike Webster: At the center of history

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Despite being the first man to touch the ball on nearly every play, the center position has never been considered a place for glory in the National Football League.

There has not been another 52 since Webster left. (Post-Gazette photo)

Steelers' record book

Steelers records held by Mike Webster:

Most SeasonsMost GamesConsecutive Games

So it was the rare player who could be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a center.

The unique fraternity who did:

Chuck Bednarik: Philadelphia Eagles, 1949-62 ... Inducted in 1967 ... one of the last great two-way players ... missed three games in 14 seasons.

Frank Gatski: Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, 1950-57 ... Inducted in 1985 ... Never missed a game in high school, college or pro football.

Mel Hein: New York Giants, 1931-45 ... Inducted in 1963 ... charter enshrinee ... 60-minute regular for 15 consecutive seasons.

Jim Langer: Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, 1970-81 ... Inducted in 1987 ... Played every down in Dolphins' perfect 1972 season ... Six Pro Bowls.

Jim Otto: Oakland Raiders, 1960-74 ... Inducted in 1980 ... Named AFL's all-time center ... Played in 210 games.

Jim Ringo: Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, 1953-67 ... Inducted in 1981 ... Ten-time Pro Bowl selection ... Started in then-record 182 consecutive games.

Dwight Stephenson: Miami Dolphins, 1980-87 ... Inducted in 1998 ... Career shortened by knee injury ... Selected to five Pro Bowls.

George Trafton: Decatur Staleys, Chicago Bears, 1920-32 ... Inducted in 1971 ... First center to snap with one hand ... Named top NFL center of 1920s.

Mike Webster: Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, 1974-90 ... Inducted in 1997 ... Played in 245 games, nine Pro Bowls and four Super Bowls.

Alex Wojchiechowicz: Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, 1938-50 ... Inducted in 1968 ... One of the original ironmen, played both ways for eight seasons.

The greatest draft?

Webster was part of the Steelers' 1974 draft class, regarded as perhaps the greatest class in the history of the NFL. Their top five picks that year:

1. Lynn SwannWRSouthern California
2. Jack LambertLBKent State
3. Traded to the Oakland Raiders
4a. John StallworthWRAlabama A&M
4b. Jim AllenDBUCLA
5. Mike WebsterCWisconsin

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