[Editor's note: We had to recreate this entry as a result of the technical difficulties that ultimately resulted in the expungement of several days of content.]
A Hall of Famer for his ability, former Steelers center Mike Webster became the most recognizable name and face of the plight of linemen suffering repeated blows to the head while battling in the trenches.
The results were tragic for Webster, marring his post-football existence and bringing his life to an untimely end at the age of 50.
And it was after his passing that Webster perhaps has had his greatest impact. Through a landmark effort to win disability benefits from the league, Webster’s experiences have helped focus attention on this problem.
So for his performances and, more importantly, his sacrifices, our annual award given to the top offensive lineman in the NFL is named for Mike Webster.
The first recipients were Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk of the Minnesota Vikings.
They’re the second recipients, too.
Birk, whose time in the NFL is winding down, deserves the recognition for a career of solid performances, a significant amount of charity work, stellar on-field and off-field leadership, and (perhaps more importantly) being a friend of PFT.
Hutchinson’s selection arises more for his impact – which can be seen both in the performance of the Minnnesota rushing game since he arrived from Seattle and the disappearance of the Seahawks’ running attack since he left. Also, Hutchinson is a card-carrying member of PFT Planet, so he got some brownie points for that, too.
It’s unlikely that they’ll win the thing a third year in a row, given that Birk is now gone for Baltimore. But even if they aren’t side-by-side during the season, we reserve the right to put them side-by-side at the end of the season as the top offensive linemen in the game.