1959 - 1972 (14 Seasons)
185 Games Played
9 Fumble Recoveries
3 Pro Bowls
Richard Charles LeBeau was a 5th round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1959 draft. He was the 58th player picked overall.
He went to college at Ohio State University. There, he played under Woody Hayes as both a running back and cornerback. He was a key member of the Buckeyes 1957 National Championship team.
During that season, he had one of the best games of his collegiate career against arch rival Michigan University. He scored two touchdowns in the Buckeyes 31-14 win.
For some reason, LeBeau is not yet in the "O" Hall of Fame. Sid Gillman is, and he wasn't much of a player as a Buckeye. Sid's main achievements were attained as an NFL and AFL coach, where he is also in Canton.
LeBeau did not make the Browns team, and was cut in training camp. He would then be picked up by the Detroit Lions. He played 6 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 Defensive Tackle Alex Karras, Hall of Fame Safety Yale Lary and Pro Bowl Safety Terry Barr. LeBeau picked off 4 passes.
The next 3 seasons, LeBeau and Lane formed the best cornerback tandem in the NFL.
LeBeau picked off 3 passes in 1961, then 4 in 1962. He scored the first two touchdowns of his career that year, by interception and fumble recovery.
In 1963, LeBeau picked off 5 passes and returned them for 158 yards. He also returned one interception 70 yards for a touchdown.
LeBeau would then make his first of 3 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 1964. That season also marked Lary's last in the NFL, and Lane played only 7 games. LeBeau still managed 5 interceptions that year.
1965 was the last year for both Lane and Schmidt. LeBeau picked off 7 passes and returned one for the last touchdown of his career. 1966 would be LeBeaus last Pro Bowl season, when he intercepted 4 passes.
LeBeau stayed steady the next several years. He picked off 4 passes in 1967, opposite of Hall of Fame Cornerback Lem Barney and under new coach, his former teammate, Joe Schmidt.
LeBeau and Barney would then team up for the next 3 years as one of the best CB tandems in the league. LeBeau then had 5 picks in 1968. In 1969, he snatched 6 interceptions.
1970 saw Dick LeBeau have a career high 9 interceptions. At 34 years old in 1971, LeBeau would intercept 6 passes.
1972 would be the last year as a Detroit Lion for LeBeau as a player, and Schmidt as a coach. 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.
Dick LeBeau only retired from the NFL as a player after 1972. He went into coaching in 1973 for the Philadelphia Eagles as a 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, then 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, All Pro 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 Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004, and is still the Defensive Coordinator of the Steelers today. In 2005, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL.
Dick LeBeau is one of the most respected coaches in NFL history, obviously, and is called "Coach Dad" by his players.
Dick LeBeaus playing career alone should have him inducted into Canton by now. If inducted, he would be the first player from the 1959 NFL Draft to make it.
He is a member of the Detroit Lions Legends. His 62 interceptions are the most in the history of the Detroit Lions.
If you just look at his coaching career alone, he is worthy of induction. If you put both factors together, it is a no brainer.
I cannot fathom what the voters hold up is. There in NO QUESTIONabout it, Dick LeBeau belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame right now!
Notable Players Drafted In 1959 (None are a Canton Inductee Yet)
2. Dick Bass, FB, Los Angelos Rams
3. Bill Stacy, DB, Chicago Cardinals
5. Dave Baker, DB, San Francisco
6. Nick Pietrosante, FB, Detroit
15. J.D. Smith, OT, Philadelphia
17. Bob L. Harrison, LB, San Francisco
19. Mike Rabold, G, Detroit
21. Rich Petitbon, DB, Chicago Bears
22. Buddy Dial, WR, NY Giants
23. Dick Shafrath, OT, Cleveland
25. Bowd Dowler, WR, Green Bay
26. Wray Carlton, RB, Philadelphia
28. Emil Karas, LB, Washington
29. Eddie Dove, DB, San Francisco
34. Joe Morrison, RB, NY Giants
35. Fran O'Brien, OT, Cleveland
41. Monte Clark, DT, San Francisco
44. John Tracey, LB, LA Rams
47. Dave Lloyd, LB, Cleveland
49. Bob Wetoska, OT, Washington
53. John Wooten, G, Cleveland
80. Eddie Meador, DB, LA Rams
102. Bobby Joe Green, P, San Francisco
119. Bob Zeman, DB, Cleveland
123. Art Powell, WR, Philadelphia
125. Harry Jacobs, LB, Detroit
141. Mike Connelly, C, LA Rams
164. Joe Robb, DE, Chicago Bears
167. Elbert Dubenion, WR, Cleveland
173. Bruce Maher, DB, Detroit
177. Roger LeClerc, LB, Chicago Bears
209. Joe Kapp, QB, Washington
219. Alan Miller, FB, Philadelphia
223. Dave Kocourek, TE, Pittsburgh
242. Dale Memmelaar, G, Chicago Cardinals
249. Donnie Stone, RB, Chicago Bears
250. Jim Fraser, LB, Cleveland
266. Fred Glick, DB, Chicago Cardinals
313. Timmy Brown, RB, Green Bay
319. Charley Tolar, FB, Pittsburgh
331. Ron Hall, DB, Pittsburgh
353. Jim Colclough, WR, Washington