The Pro Football Hall of Fame will have one more Lion by the end of the day. Dick LeBeau will officially become a Hall of Famer during the 2010 Enshrinement Ceremony that will be held tonight at 7 PM. The ceremony will be televised nationally on ESPN and NFL Network. LeBeau will be presented by his brother, Bob:
“Dick loved to play sports,” remarked his brother who continues to reside in London, Ohio where the two brothers grew up. “He was a great athlete. He’s a great coach, and he’s the most loving brother a man could have. I’m so proud that he’s going to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Dick LeBeau was originally drafted in 1959 by the Cleveland Browns but never played for them after being cut in training camp. He signed on with the Lions and ended up starting in the final six games of the ’59 season. That six game stretch was a harbinger of things to come as LeBeau went on to start a Lions record 171 consecutive games until late in the 1971 season. The streak is NFL’s longest for a cornerback.
Durability wasn’t the only reason Dick LeBeau made so many consecutive starts, he was also a very productive player. He intercepted at least four passes in every season from 1960 to 1971, including a career high nine in 1970. LeBeau still stands as the Lions all-time interceptions leader and his 62 picks ranked third in league history at the time of his retirement.
A long coaching career has followed LeBeau’s playing days, beginning in 1973 as a special teams coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. LeBeau was named interim head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals three games into the 2000 season lead the team until the 2002 season. He is probably now in the last position of his career as defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a job he has held since 2004. Over that time the Steelers have had some of the best defensive teams in the league, definitely a credit to their coordinator.