LeBeau was a fifth-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1959 draft. He was the 58th player picked overall, but did not make the Browns team and was cut in training camp. He would then be picked up by the Detroit Lions as a free agent and played six games in his rookie year, mostly on special teams.
He did recover the first fumble of his career that season. In 1960, LeBeau earned the starting job at cornerback opposite newly acquired Hall of Famer Dick "Night Train" Lane.
The Lions defense also had Hall of Fame MLB Joe Schmidt, Hall of Fame Safety Yale Lary, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Alex Karras and Pro Bowl safety Terry Barr. LeBeau picked off four passes. The next three seasons, LeBeau and Lane formed the best cornerback tandem in the NFL.
LeBeau picked off three passes in 1961, then four in 1962. He scored the first two touchdowns of his career that year, by interception and fumble recovery. In 1963, LeBeau picked off five passes and returned them for 158 yards. He also returned one interception 70 yards for a touchdown.
LeBeau would then make his first of three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 1964. That season also marked Lary's last in the NFL, and Lane played only seven games. LeBeau still managed five interceptions that year. The 1965 season was the last year for both Lane and Schmidt. LeBeau picked off seven passes and returned one for the last touchdown of his career.
The 1966 season would be LeBeau's last Pro Bowl season, when he intercepted four passes. LeBeau stayed steady the next several years. He picked off four passes in 1967, opposite of Hall of Fame cornerback Lem Barney under new coach, and former teammate, Joe Schmidt.
LeBeau and Barney would then team up for the next three years as one of the best CB tandems in the league. LeBeau had 20 picks over that time. At 34-years old in 1971, LeBeau would intercept six passes.
The 1972 season would be the last year as a Detroit Lion for LeBeau and Schmidt. LeBeau was moved to free safety that year, and would not intercept a pass for the first time since his rookie season. He did recover the last fumble of his career that year.
LeBeau only retired from the NFL as a player after 1972. He went into coaching in 1973 for the Philadelphia Eagles as their secondary coach. He stayed with the team until 1975. He then held the same duties with the Green Bay Packers from 1976 to 1979.
In 1980, he moved to the Cincinnati Bengals. He served as a secondary coach, and as defensive coordinator with the Bengals until 1991. LeBeau then served as the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992 to 1996.
This is when LeBeau would gain notoriety for inventing the now commonly used "Zone Blitz" defense. The Steelers defense featured such greats as Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson, Pro Bowl linebackers Greg Lloyd, Hardy Nickerson, Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown, Kevin Greene, Jason Gildon and strong safety Carnell Lake. They would go to the Super Bowl after the 1995 season.
In 1997, LeBeau returned to the Bengals as a defensive coordinator. He would then be named head coach of the Bengals in 2000 and held that job until 2002.
LeBeau then worked for the Buffalo Bills in 2003. He returned to the Steelers in 2004, and is still the defensive coordinator of the Steelers today. In 2005, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL. Pittsburgh also won Super Bow XLIII in 2008.
Dick LeBeau is one of the most respected coaches in NFL history, obviously, and is called "Coach Dad" by his players. He is a member of the Detroit Lions Legend and his 62 interceptions are the most in the history of the Lions.
He is the first player from the 1959 NFL Draft to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is the best free agent signing the Lions ever had.