Dick LeBeau Named Senior Nominee to the Hall-of-Fame

James WilliamsonSenior Writer IAugust 26, 2009

PITTSBURGH - 2009:  Dick LeBeau of the Pittsburgh Steelers poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by NFL Photos)

After a successful Super Bowl win, defensive guru, Dick LeBeau, has been named as a finalist to the Professional Football Hall-of-Fame at the age of 71.

In my humble, unbiased opinion, "It's about time!"

Every August, certain Hall-of-Fame voters, who are also members of the Senior Selection Committee, select two players, whose professional careers ended at least 25 years prior.

Dick LeBeau was not just a coach, but also an excellent cornerback, and he played with Dick "Night Train" Lane and Lem Barney over a 14-year career with the Detroit Lions.

He is tied for seventh in all-time career interceptions, had nine fumble recoveries, and four defensive touchdowns.

He was drafted in 1959 by the Cleveland Browns as a fifth round pick from Ohio State University. He was cut by the Browns and then signed by the Lions where he became a legend.

However, his accomplishments on the field are only half of what this man has done for the game of football. This guy became a defensive coach and in 1995, he became the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That first year, the Steelers went to the Super Bowl and even though they lost, it's still quite an accomplishment. He left the Steelers in 1997 and came back in 2004.

Every year he's been with the Steelers, they have been in the top 10 in defense, except in 2006 when they were ranked 11th.

Twice they have been No. 1, and three more times in the top five.

Dick LeBeau has been a father figure to his players and many of them consider him as just that, a father.

But, his greatest accomplishment was how he changed defensive football.

He is universally regarded as the inventor of the Zone Blitz, which is used to confuse the offense by dropping back players that usually blitz into zone coverage, while using players that usually play coverage as blitzers.

For example, one would have the outside linebacker drop into coverage and call for a cornerback blitz.

If he wasn't a Hall-of-Famer as a player or as a coach, any unbiased person cannot say that if you combine both of them, then he should have been in the Hall years ago.

Steelers and Lions fans should be rejoicing when this great player, coach, and person will be inducted to the Hall-of-Fame.

I say that because I believe there is a greater chance of me being teleported to Pluto to become the ambassador of an alien race, than this guy being denied induction.

He's already got the Senior Committee behind him, which is five voters, and he's got Ed Bouchette-the Pittsburgh voter, and Tom Kowalski-the Detroit voter, so I don't see this guy being denied.

When you think about it, Dick LeBeau deserves it, especially this year because Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice are up for induction and it is just appropriate that these three greatest of the greats be inducted together.