Sometime this afternoon we will find out whether former Lion cornerback and current Steeler defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
LeBeau needs to obtain 80 per cent of the vote from the 44 person Veterans Committee. (LeBeau’s number was also 44) Mike O’Hara of the News predicts LeBeau is headed to Canton.
From 1959 to 1972, Dick LeBeau played an NFL record 171 consecutive games at cornerback for Detroit and is third among NFL cornerbacks in career interceptions (62).
LeBeau was always a strong defensive back who was a ball hawk and a tough tackler back in the day when defense was truly the Lions’ pride.
In the early 1960s LeBeau was part of Detroit “4 Ls” secondary that also included Gary Lowe and Hall of Famers Dick “Night Train” Lane and Yale Lary. From 1967 to 1972 the Ohio State grad played alongside fellow cornerback and Hall of Famer Lem Barney.
Lion legend and Hall of Famer Joe Schmidt played with LeBeau from 1959 to 1965 and was his head coach from 1967 through 1972. Schmidt recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
“Down deep, he knows he should be there. But he’s not going to make a big fuss over it if he doesn’t get there. I know it means a lot to him and he should be there. He’s contributed a lot to the NFL and there’s not reason he shouldn’t enjoy the fruits at the end.”
Amazingly, this year marked LeBeau’s 51st consecutive year in the NFL.
After he retired from playing in 1972, LeBeau embarked on a celebrated coaching career in Philadelphia, Green Bay, Buffalo, and Cincinnati and two stints in Pittsburgh.
Considered an “innovator” and “defensive football genius”, he created the famous “zone blitz” when he was defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals in the late 1980s. He would later also serve as head coach in Cincinnati.
Despite his great acclaim as a coach and his 14 year playing career in Detroit, it appears the Lions never offered him a coaching position. Joe Schmidt told me that he once tried to get an interview for LeBeau with the front office but the offer was declined.
I think we could have used him again.