Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was named one of the two senior nominees for NFL Hall of Fame induction. He was nice enough to share his thoughts on the matter with us here at NPC.
Coach Tomlin told us after practice that I’m a finalist for the Hall of Fame thanks to the senior committee. Good kid, that Coach Tomlin. Reminds me of Lem Barney. As for the Hall of Fame, all I can say is about time.
The damn sports writers only had 51 years to elect me to the Hall. Yep, I joined the NFL back in 1959 when I was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. Believe it or not, they were good back then. The Browns cut me in camp but I managed to hook on with the Detroit Lions, where I played for the next 14 years. That’s when Detroit ruled the auto industry with manly cars that put out 400 horsepower while getting five miles a gallon. I still drive a Ford. Nancy Boys buy a ricer, son.
When my playing days were over, I finished seventh all-time in career interceptions. That’s a lot harder than it sounds. Today, you have these pansy offenses that sling the ball to the left and sling the ball to the right forty times a game. In my day, teams threw the ball only when they absolutely had to. If I had gimpy arm nincompoops like Chad Pennington chucking the pigskin my way two dozen times every game, my record would still stand.
I also set a record for cornerbacks by playing 171 consecutive games. Nowadays, you have trainers, massage therapists, and a specialist for every damn part of the body. We had dirt. Sprain your ankle? Rub dirt on it and take a lap. Strain your balls? Rub dirt on it and take a lap. Dislocate your shoulder? Rub dirt on it and take a lap.
After my playing days, I was lucky enough to move into coaching. I bounced around as an assistant until I finally became a defensive coordinator in 1984. Altogether, I’ve been a d-coordinator for 19 years and three different teams. People say that I innovated defensive strategery by inventing such schemes as the Zone Blitz. I just say I hate quarterbacks.
The big knock against me seems to be my lack of head coaching success. I was only the top man once, a 3 year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this decade. C’mon, it was the BENGALS. Sure I didn’t accomplish much but there’s only so much one man can do when an organization is rotten to the core. A coaching committee of Don Shula, Tom Landry, and Chuck Noll couldn’t fix those losers.
I owe everything to my players. If they hadn’t spoken up for me, I’d probably still be waiting for that nomination. I think the words of former Steeler Rod Woodson during his recent HOF induction speech finally opened some eyes. Good kid, that Woodson. Reminded me of Night Train Lane.
Everything I’ve done is because of my players. All the top ranked defenses. All the Super Bowl championships. All because of their hard work and talent. They call me Coach Dad, which means a lot to me although if I were their father, I’d tell Keisel to stop getting all those damn tattoos and Polamalu to cut his hair. He looks like one of those damn dirty hippies we used as tackling dummies back in the 60’s. Anyway, I owe it all to them but if I played some part in putting those boys in a position to succeed, I’ll gladly accept your nomination. Now get off my lawn, I have a practice to run.
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