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Thread: Hall of Fame induction is '10,000 dreams come true' for LeBe

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    Legend fordfixer's Avatar
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    Hall of Fame induction is '10,000 dreams come true' for LeBe

    Hall of Fame induction is '10,000 dreams come true' for LeBeau
    By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Friday, August 6, 2010
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 93645.html

    Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau still has a hard time believing he is bound for football immortality.

    "I get up in the morning and pinch myself and say: 'I guess I'm not dreaming.' " LeBeau said. "It really hasn't hit me. I'm not sure that it ever will. It's 10,000 dreams come true."

    It may seem to LeBeau that just as many people are there for him Saturday night when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    The Steelers are taking six buses to Canton, Ohio, for the induction ceremony. Former high school, college and NFL teammates will also be among the crowd at Fawcett Stadium.

    The ripples of the beloved LeBeau finally getting into the Hall extend so far that they caused Norwin High School's Class of 1980 to reschedule its 30-year reunion.

    It had originally been set for Saturday. When LeBeau got voted into the Hall of Fame, class president Dan Priatko told his fellow Norwin alums that the date of the reunion had to be moved. (It was held in June.)

    Priatko is the son of Bill Priatko, who roomed with LeBeau at Browns training camp in 1959 and is still a close friend.

    "He told Coach LeBeau, 'There's no way I'm going to miss seeing you inducted,' " Bill Priatko said.

    LeBeau's contributions to the game as a coach are well documented.

    He is widely credited with inventing the zone blitz, and he will go down as one of the best defensive coaches in the history of the NFL.

    But LeBeau is going into the Hall of Fame as a player, and there are many who wonder why it took so long for him to get there based on what he did during a 14-year career with the Lions.

    "He was a hell of a football player," said Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, who played in the same era as LeBeau and against him twice a season as a Chicago Bear. "I remember the scouting report (saying) how good he was at getting to the football. When the ball was run or thrown, he got to the ball pretty darn good."

    LeBeau had more interceptions than all but two players in NFL history when he retired in 1972. He still holds the NFL record for consecutive starts by a cornerback (171), and that is the accomplishment of which he is most proud when it comes to his playing days.

    "I think it's a reflection of the character of the individual," said LeBeau, who signed with the Lions in 1959 after the Browns cut him. "I think everyone can identify with the fact that of all those games there had to be several where you didn't feel much like playing football. I'm just proud that I could go out there and play and that it was important for me to be on the field. Do what you can do to the best of your ability on a daily basis. I think that is what life is all about."

    The irony of LeBeau becoming a football lifer is that he has so many interests outside of the sport.

    He is a history buff who once visited Bushy Run Battlefield in Penn Township before a Steelers preseason game.

    He is an accomplished golfer, and folks who play with him swear he would have been good enough to make the Champions Tour had he gone that route.

    LeBeau is also a music enthusiast along with his older brother, Bob, who will introduce him at the Hall of Fame enshrinement.

    A life outside of football is not all that has kept the rigors of coaching from beating down LeBeau, who is 72 and could easily pass for 52.

    He has never taken himself or life too seriously - as former Lions teammates Mike Lucci can attest.

    After returning home from one road game, Lucci recalled, he and a group of players that included LeBeau discovered that someone had stolen the tires off of Lucci's car.

    The others razzed Lucci about his bad fortune, and the Ambridge native was still steaming when he later got a call from LeBeau.

    "Hey, Looch," LeBeau said, "you got the last laugh. I came home and they robbed my apartment.' "

    "He had that kind of sense of humor," said Lucci, who will be at LeBeau's enshrinement.

    What also endears LeBeau to people and especially his players: a temperament that is as level as a yard stick.

    To a man, Steelers players and coaches say he is the same person all the time.

    "He's my favorite guy ever," Keisel said. "I love the guy to death."

    Three years ago, the Steelers' defensive players wore throwback No. 44 LeBeau jerseys to the Hall of Fame game to make a statement that had nothing to do with fashion.

    They will again pay tribute to LeBeau in Canton tomorrow night.

    And their presence at his enshrinement is one of many reasons why LeBeau may get emotional during the speech that so many have waited so long to hear.

    "It's probably been the most humbling experience of my professional career the way my players talk about me and the way that this particular group of defenders treat me and react to me," LeBeau said. "It is absolutely the highest compliment I've ever had."

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    Re: Hall of Fame induction is '10,000 dreams come true' for LeBe

    What pisses me off is he should have been in 20 years ago, and then finally makes it after his 90 something mother finally passed away. Biggest day of his life, and it's bitter sweet. That just jerks my ****ing chain to no end.

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    Re: Hall of Fame induction is '10,000 dreams come true' for LeBe

    D!ck LeBeau, complex as a player and coach

    Posted by Gregg Rosenthal on August 7, 2010






    Like many football fans, I first met D!ck LeBeau in the pages of Paper Lion by George Plimpton.

    Then 26 years old, LeBeau was described a "lady-killer" with an "abstracted air" who was an expert dancer at the local bar. LeBeau liked to strum "melancholy" songs on his guitar late at night while telling stories about his legendary secondary teammate Dick "Night Train" Lane.

    While it's hard to imagine this young man becoming one of the legendary coaches of his era, even then LeBeau thought differently than others.

    Lane called LeBeau "complex," always thinking how best to read the receivers he covered. His mind often seemed elsewhere off the field, perhaps thinking about the next practice, the next game.

    LeBeau used his brain and his physical tools to rack up 62 interceptions in a 14-year career, still seventh-best in NFL history. He made the Pro Bowl three times, and only missed one game between 1961-1972.

    A great player, LeBeau wouldn't be inducted this weekend if not for his influence as a coach. It's debatable whether he "invented" the zone blitz, but LeBeau certainly popularized it and mastered all its advantages like no one else.

    He coordinated the Bengals into the Super Bowl twice in the 80's, and helped key Pittsburgh's two Super Bowl trophies in the last decade with a rotating cast of players, many of whom call LeBeau "Coach Dad."

    The voters for the Hall of Fame weren't supposed to consider LeBeau's coaching achievements, which is silly.

    We're glad they did. You can't tell the story of the NFL over the last 50 years without including D!ck LeBeau's contributions.

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... and-coach/

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    Re: Hall of Fame induction is '10,000 dreams come true' for LeBe

    Nice speech by LeBeau with a lot of Steeler love. I watched all of his speech, caught parts of a few others and was able to watch all of Emmitt Smith's. I gotta say that Emmitt was powerful, eloquent, and delivered one of the best Hall of Fame speeches I had ever heard.

    I remember listening to his state championship game on the radio when he was a junior at Escambia High. The game was being played in my hometown on the same night as the 5A championship game (it was Escambia County vs. Manatee County in both games...we split.) Emmitt ran for something like 250 yards in that game and for the season he rushed for over 30 TDs and almost 3,000 yards. I followed his career closely from that moment on (it didn't hurt that he became a Gator...it did when he became a Cowboy).

    Anyway, it's funny going back to that game 25 years ago that I listened to on the radio and seeing come full circle. I don't want to take away from Dick Lebeau, or fail to give props to any of the other inductees whose speeches I largely missed. I just thought Emmitt Smith was simply outstanding.



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    Re: Hall of Fame induction is '10,000 dreams come true' for LeBe

    Quote Originally Posted by Crash
    What pisses me off is he should have been in 20 years ago, and then finally makes it after his 90 something mother finally passed away. Biggest day of his life, and it's bitter sweet. That just jerks my bad word chain to no end.
    You know what bothered me the most this whole HOF weekend was that if you watched the NFL network you would have thought that Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice were the only two players being inducted. The other inductees were after thoughts and that's wrong, IMO.

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    Re: Hall of Fame induction is '10,000 dreams come true' for LeBe

    Quote Originally Posted by Flasteel
    Nice speech by LeBeau with a lot of Steeler love. I watched all of his speech, caught parts of a few others and was able to watch all of Emmitt Smith's. I gotta say that Emmitt was powerful, eloquent, and delivered one of the best Hall of Fame speeches I had ever heard.

    I remember listening to his state championship game on the radio when he was a junior at Escambia High. The game was being played in my hometown on the same night as the 5A championship game (it was Escambia County vs. Manatee County in both games...we split.) Emmitt ran for something like 250 yards in that game and for the season he rushed for over 30 TDs and almost 3,000 yards. I followed his career closely from that moment on (it didn't hurt that he became a Gator...it did when he became a Cowboy).

    Anyway, it's funny going back to that game 25 years ago that I listened to on the radio and seeing come full circle. I don't want to take away from Dick Lebeau, or fail to give props to any of the other inductees whose speeches I largely missed. I just thought Emmitt Smith was simply outstanding.
    Must of been strange for you during SB XXX. Happy for Emmitt, sad for us.

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