Dick LeBeau is most notable around Pittsburgh for being the architect of the current edition of the Steel Curtain since 2004. However LeBeau has been in the NFL as a player or coach since 1959 without taking a year off. At the age of 76, he’s still going and is as spry as ever.
LeBeau began his career in the NFL in 1959 when he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. In typical Browns fashion, they cut the future Hall of Famer before he ever played a game for them. Yep, the Browns were just as clueless then as they are now.
LeBeau was signed by the Detroit Lions where he went on to play 14 seasons, intercepting 62 passes, which is a team record he still holds today. That feat also currently ranks him 7th in NFL history. LeBeau was finally recognized for his brilliant career in 2010 when he was inducted into the both the Lions Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of fame.
Though LeBeau’s playing days ended in 1972, his career in the NFL was just beginning as he began coaching in 1973 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He stayed there until 1975 and then moved on to the Packers from 1976-1979, the Bengals from 1980-1991, the Steelers from 1992-1996, back to the Bengals from 1997-2002 of which he was Head Coach from 2000-2002, the Bills in 2003 and then he returned to Pittsburgh in 2004 and remains the architect of the defense to this day.
LeBeau’s coaching career has seen him be a part of 6 AFC Championship teams and 2 Super Bowl Championship teams. In 2013, he was inducted into the Pittsburgh Pro Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his amazing tenure with the Steelers.
LeBeau is the definition of a football lifer, a man who has dedicated his life to the game, into developing boys into men and into teaching skills and fundamentals of success. He is a huge reason the Steelers have been as good as they have for so many years and he is certainly a big part of the development of such players as Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, Ike Taylor and so many more.
It’s hard to say where the Steelers may have gone without Coach LeBeau but fortunately for the black and gold, they don’t have to wonder, they know where they’ve been and where they hope Coach LeBeau will help bring them again.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.