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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Lebeau finally gets his just due on Saturday, joining 2010 HOF Class

    DICK LeBEAU



    Position:
    Cornerback | Ht./Wt: 6'1", 185 | College: Ohio State
    Yrs/Team: 1959-1972 Detroit Lions

    Pro Career: 14 playing seasons, 185 games … Selected by Cleveland Browns in 5th round (58th overall) in 1959 draft … Cut by Browns during rookie training camp … Signed with Lions, earned place in starting lineup final six games of rookie year … Didn’t miss another game until late in 1971 season … Started 171 consecutive games, an NFL record for his position … In 1960, began to make mark by intercepting four passes, starting string of 12 straight seasons with three or more interceptions … In 1963, intercepted five passes which he returned for career-high 158 yards, including 70-yard TD return against Rams … It was one of three interceptions he returned for touchdowns in career … The following year, intercepted five passes and was voted to first of three consecutive Pro Bowls … Also earned All-NFL second-team accolades, an honor earned again in 1965, 1966, 1970 … Finest season came in 1970 when he recorded NFC-leading nine interceptions for 96 yards … In all, recorded 62 picks for 762 yards … Ranked second among pure cornerbacks at retirement with 62 interceptions, third overall … Currently ranks third all-time among pure cornerbacks … Born on September 9, 1937 in London, Ohio.


    More on LeBeau:


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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Great read on Lebeau's career in the NFL and how he really was an elite, shutdown corner.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shu...urn=nfl-259667

    The Hall-of-Famers: Dick LeBeau (Part 1)

    By Doug Farrar

    As we come closer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies on Saturday, Aug. 7, Shutdown Corner will have features on all the 2010 inductees. We begin with Dick LeBeau, the former great cornerback and current defensive coaching genius. This is part one of a two-part interview; you can read the conclusion here.
    "Everything he touches, he leaves it better than he found it. That is the special mark of the man." — Marvin Lewis
    There is a very short list of people who can claim a legitimate and influential tenure of 50 years or more in the NFL — you're basically talking about the league's Mount Rushmore when you discuss names like George Halas, Paul Brown and Don Shula. All slam-dunk Hall of Famers, and it's past time to add another name to that list. Dick LeBeau, the humble genius who runs the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense, will enter the Hall this weekend in celebration of a pro football career that began in 1959, when the Ohio State grad caught on as a defensive back with the Detroit Lions. Over the next 14 seasons, LeBeau started 171 straight games (a record for his position) and picked off 62 passes, which is tied for seventh-highest all-time to this day.
    As a player, LeBeau was as smart as they came, and he knew that opposing quarterbacks were looking to exploit his side of the field — after all, LeBeau was lined up on the other side of Dick "Night Train" Lane and Lem Barney at different times through his career. "For one thing, you were aware that they were both probably going to end up in the Hall of Fame — Night Train for what he had done, and Lem for what he would do," LeBeau said last week. "Lem was one of our best offensive weapons — he would take a kickoff or punt back, or take an interception back ... I think that if he came out today as a first-year player in the league, he'd be a standout and as unique as he was in his rookie season. He had the most tremendous balance and quick feet of any defensive back I've ever seen, and that includes right up to the present day."
    LeBeau may not have had that kind of physical talent, but his mind for the game drew early notice from Lions coach Joe Schmidt, who considered giving LeBeau the title of player/coach after another team put the idea out there. "Coach [Bud] Grant in Minnesota called ‘Coach Joe' about the possibility of me going to work up there," he said. "And Joe said, ‘No, he's going to continue to play.' And Joe was thinking a little bit about using me as a player/coach. We talked about it a couple of times, and I think that's about where it ended. I think I would have liked to have done that, because I was quite a bit older than most of the players, but there hadn't been a lot of player/coaches in the history of the league."
    LeBeau had known that he wanted to coach in the NFL — it had been a dream since at least his college days — and he got his first shot in 1973, the year after he retired as a player. The Hall-of-Fame career as a player was cemented, but his legacy as a defensive coach was about to overwhelm it. He coached special teams for the Philadelphia Eagles through 1975 and defensive backs for the Green Bay Packers until 1979, but it was his time with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1980s that really brought him into prominence. This was when LeBeau started toying with the concept of the zone blitz, a versatile defensive idea that would allow coverage players to blitz at the same time that players who always blitzed in the past would drop into coverage.
    "As has often been stated, necessity is the mother of invention," he said. "We had a hole in our defensive concept in the National Football League, where all pressures were all zero coverage. You put everybody at risk; it was a hit-or-miss situation. That's the case with every snap, but when you blitz max, it turns the rolling of the dice a little higher. All I was looking for was a safer way to do that, and there really hadn't been much experimentation going on in that area — keeping pressure on the ball, and still playing area defense behind it.
    "Sam Wyche was our head coach at the time, and he was a very innovative guy, and that was a matter of happenstance and a plus for me. He was more open to the concept, which at the time, deviated from the standard. Rather than what some conservative coaches would have said — ‘There's no way you're doing that with my defense' — Sam said, ‘Let's take a look at it.' We took some wrong roads, but eventually stumbled on some right ones, and it's very common in the game today. So, I think it was just an opportunity meeting a situation of need."
    When need and opportunity met, the results were definitive — the Bengals soon boasted one of the league's best defenses as LeBeau worked his way up from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator. At the same time that Ronnie Lott was changing the coverage concepts of the safety position in San Francisco, LeBeau turned David Fulcher loose in those blitz looks, essentially creating the hybrid safety/'backer position. As a former defensive back himself, LeBeau always had a great sense of how versatile those players could be. I asked him about the safeties he's worked with, from Fulcher to Carnell Lake to Troy Polamalu(notes), and how responsibilities have changed for today's safety in a league that puts an increasing premium on the passing game.
    "It has changed a little bit, and I wouldn't ever leave Rod Woodson out of any defensive backfield discussion — he was kind of a rover. He played corner for a long time, and over the last half of his career, he played safety. But all those people you mentioned are big guys — over 200 pounds. They could play close to the line and blitz, and still have the kinesthetic sense to play in space and the awareness of where they were in space. I've been blessed to have those kinds of people.
    "In the beginning of my career, there were true strong safeties and free safeties. Strong safeties played closer to the line, and free safeties played deeper. But that [strong safety] position, per se, has pretty much fallen out of the league. Both safeties have to be able to do both and be interchangeable. And that is representative of not only what you're going to ask the player to do, but what type of athlete you're looking for."

    Part 2 -

    The Hall-of-Famers: Dick LeBeau (Part 2)

    By Doug Farrar

    As we come closer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies on Saturday, Aug. 7, Shutdown Corner will have features on all the 2010 inductees. We begin with Dick LeBeau, the former great cornerback and current defensive coaching genius. This is Part 2 of a two-part interview; you can find Part 1 here.
    If you want Dick LeBeau's Hall of Fame credentials as a defensive coach, don't ask the man himself - all he'll tell you is that it's all about his players. You'll want to ask the players themselves. Perhaps the most compelling testimony I've heard - among the greatest endorsements I've seen a player give his coach - came from current Steelers safety Troy Polamalu(notes) when I asked him about "Coach Dad" at a Nike 7-on-7 tournament in early July.
    "There's no question that he is the greatest coach of all time," Polamalu told me, "and there's no question to me that he is the epitome of what a Hall-of-Famer should be. You're talking about a guy who played in the NFL and was very successful, with 63 interceptions - he reminds us of that all the time (laughs). He had the most consecutive starts at cornerback - over 100 games. He's been a special-teams coach, a coordinator, and a head coach. He's been part of the game longer than anybody who didn't own a team. So, to me, he's the most deserving guy ever, and the Hall of Fame people are lucky to have him as part of it."
    One of the reasons that Polamalu thrived in LeBeau's defenses was the coach's ability to utilize his players in new and interesting ways. When he took over the Steelers' defense for the first time in the early 1990s, he brought on the "Blitzburgh" defense, with four amazing linebackers - Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Chad Brown(notes), and Levon Kirkland. All different players, and LeBeau understood that these differences made for better defenses. From speed to power to unusual body types, LeBeau took it all in. And when he got hold of a do-it-all guy like Polamalu, anything could happen. Opposing offenses might see Pittsburgh's elite safety giving a blitz look and backing off to cover center field, or charging on a delayed blitz from deep thirds. As LeBeau developed his zone blitz concepts, anything was fair game. "It's a level of trust, communication and understanding," Polamalu said. "That's the relationship that Coach LeBeau and I have."
    But you won't get LeBeau to say anything about himself. "Well, Troy and Carnell [Lake} and Rod [Woodson] are defensive coordinators' dreams. Troy probably has the most versatility of any of the backs I've coached - he can literally do anything. You ask him to blitz, he's going to be a great blitzer. If you ask him to cover [the opposing team's] best wide receiver, he's going to do a good job there. If you ask him to play in a linebacker area and chase down the runner, he'll do that well. And he can coordinate the coverage - he has a great knowledge of the defense. So, I couldn't really find a weakness in Troy, and that's a true blessing from a defensive coordinator's standpoint. He opens the playbook to pretty much anything you want to do - it's just a matter of how far off the diving board you want to go."
    When LeBeau's career is over - and he hasn't even thought about retirement just yet - perhaps the most notable defensive call remembered will be the zone blitz at the end of the first half in Super Bowl XLIII. Linebacker/end James Harrison(notes) dropped back into coverage, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner(notes) didn't see it, and Harrison returned the subsequent interception off the short pass into the end zone 100 yards for a touchdown. That put the score at 17-7, and wound up being the difference in a comeback the Cardinals couldn't complete. It's typical of LeBeau that even when a concept he invented turned the biggest game of the season his team's way, he still wouldn't accept credit - -when I asked him about how the play was called, he immediately deferred all credit to Harrison.

    "We teach our players to think on the field, and to be aware of the opponents' situations," LeBeau said. "James would tell you, if you were speaking to him, that he knew there was not enough time left in the half to run the ball and get their kicker on the field to kick the field goal. The area of probability was extremely high that they would try to throw the ball, and if that was incomplete, bring out the kicker. So, he engaged and looked for the passing lane. Warner never saw him, and James just made a tremendous play based on the odds of what the opponent was going to do. I'm just as proud of him executing in that situation as I would be if I had made the perfect call."
    One way to get LeBeau to talk about himself is to ask him about the deep and abiding love his players feel for him through different eras. Tired of waiting for their brilliant defensive coordinator to receive his long-overdue Hall of Fame nod, several Steelers showed up at the 2008 induction week wearing replicas of LeBeau's old "44" Detroit Lions jersey. A year later, Rod Woodson used his Hall of Fame speech to stump for LeBeau's candidacy. "Seriously - I hope the voters get it right," Woodson said behind the podium. "First of all, he belongs in as a player. And if you don't want to put him in as a player, you put him in as a contributor. Because he did so much for the National Football league for over 50 years. He deserves it."
    "It's probably been the most humbling experience of my professional career, the way my payers talk about me and the way this particular group of defenders treat me and react to me," LeBeau said. "It is absolutely the highest compliment I have ever had paid to me."
    Has the newest compliment - that Hall of Fame induction - hit him yet? "It really hasn't, and I don't know when it will. I still get up in the morning and pinch myself. I could my blessings and say, ‘I guess I'm not dreaming - I guess this is really happening.' I've always had a strong sense of history , and that's the biggest effect it's had on me - to be a part of National Football League history forever. And that's the part that makes me shake a little bit, but I just feel truly blessed."
    Every player he's ever coached, and every teammate he's ever shared time with on the field, and every coach he's ever worked with, can look back with a similar feeling about having known Dick LeBeau.
    And that's why he's finally -- finally -- going into the Hall of Fame. The voters got it right.

  3. #3
    LarryNJ's Avatar
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    Just the way his players respect him says it all. Thanks for everything and enjoy the moment Dick, you've earned it!
    "When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself."
    -Wayne Dyer

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Im excited to hear his speech on Saturday, I'll definitely be watching! The originator of the zone blitz, teams have followed his strategies for decades. We're lucky to have him finish out his career with the team he belongs with and enter the HoF with all the respect and admiration from the Steeler Nation and the NFL.

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    Draft Pick Layin the wood's Avatar
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    He's a great coach and a great man! Congrats on the induction into the HOF!!

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    Draft Pick Lunchbucket's Avatar
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    Thank you for posting this.I enjoyed reading it.HOF long overdue.

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    STEELER NATION RULES
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    Great stuff. Thanks for posting it.

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    It is so easy for all of us to get caught up in his amazing career as a D-Coordinator, that we may not really understand just how good he was at CB in his playing days. You talk to any of these long-suffereing Lions' fans here in the Mitten and they'll flat out tell you he was truly one of the all-time great Lions and all-time great players on defense period.

    Congrats to a great coach and player, finally.


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    Starter Callax's Avatar
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    I am so Happy that he FINALLY gets his LONG over due PROPS to be in the HOF!!!!!

    next is to get Donnie Shell in the HOF!!!
    1st TRUE safety to get 51 int's in a career 6? pro bowls
    needs to be in HOF period!!!
    Oakland, Where Careers Go To Die!!!!!



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    75Steeler's Avatar
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    Great post! Congrats coach you deserve being in the HOF!

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