LeBeau's Hall chances looking good
February 2nd, 2010
FORT LAUDERDALE — This looks like the year that Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau receives his long overdue induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
LeBeau is one of two Senior Committee nominees — Broncos running back Floyd Little is the other — and that makes him a finalist for the Hall of Fame for the first time.
The significance of "getting into the room," as it is called, is a presenter will make LeBeau’s case to the rest of the Hall of Fame voters.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News will be able to make a strong argument that LeBeau deserves a place among the all-time greats in Canton even though the latter’s candidacy is based solely on what he did as a player.
Consider the following when it comes to LeBeau’s playing career, which spanned from 1959-72 with the Detroit Lions.
— His 62 career interceptions rank seventh (tied) on the NFL’s all-time list.
— LeBeau was second among cornerbacks in career interceptions when he retired; more than 35 years later he is third in interceptions among those who spent their entire career at cornerback.
-- LeBeau's 171 consecutive starts is still an NFL record for cornerbacks, making that another accomplishment that has stood the test of time.
-- LeBeau excelled late in his career as well as early in it; his nine interceptions in 1970 led the NFC.
Gosselin said LeBeau “slipped through the cracks” for two reasons: he didn’t play on great teams in Detroit and Hall of Fame voters have traditionally favored offensive players over defensive ones.
Gosselin said the Veterans Committee was created to correct oversights such as the omission of LeBeau from the Hall of Fame. LeBeau and the other finalists need 80 percent of the vote Saturday to get into the Hall.