IQFB Profile: Dick LeBeau
Dick LeBeau is probably most famous these days as a great football coach. He has been on the staffs of a number of very successful teams and is a highly regarded defensive coordinator. LeBeau played his whole career with the Detroit Lions and was regarded as one of the better defensive backs of his era. After moving on from the playing ranks, he has made his mark on a number of team’s as both a head coach and an assistant coach.
LeBeau played college football for Ohio State University and was a member of the Woody Hayes coached 1957 team that would win the National Championship. During his college years he would play on both sides of the ball, cornerback on defense and halfback on offense. During the 1957 game against rival Michigan, LeBeau scored two touchdowns as the Buckeyes had to come from behind to defeat the Wolverines by the score of 31-14.
In the 1959 NFL Draft, Dick LeBeau would be drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round. Before the season even started though he would be cut and end up signing with the Detroit Lions as a rookie free agent. He would spend the next fourteen seasons prowling the defensive side of the football as one of the more feared cornerbacks in the game. He would only play in six games during his rookie season with his only notable stat being a lone fumble recovery. Starting in 1960 though he would go on a 13 year streak where he would never have fewer than three interceptions. LeBeau returned three interceptions for touchdowns during his career (1962, 1963, and 1965) and one fumble (1962). 1970 would be his personal best for interceptions when he racked up nine.
LeBeau was named to the Pro Bowl in 1965, 1966, and 1967. He would finish his career with 62 interceptions returned for 762 yards and three touchdowns. He would also recover nine fumbles during his career, returning them for 53 yards and one touchdown. Dick LeBeau would retire as a football player following the 1972 season.
When the 1973 NFL season came around, LeBeau would find himself not far from the action. In his very first season out of pro football, and being only 35 years old, he would be hired by the Philadelphia Eagles as the Special Teams coach. After three seasons in Philadelphia, LeBeau would move on to be the defensive backs coach for the Green Bay Packers. He would last in that position for four seasons before moving on to be the defensive backs coach for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1980. At the age of 47 in 1984, and with 11 seasons of experience as an NFL assistant coach, Dick LeBeau would be promoted by the Bengals to the position of Defensive Coordinator. LeBeau would stay in that position for eight seasons before changing teams at the age of 55 in 1992 to become the defensive backs coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would once again rise to the level of Defensive Coordinator, this time with the Steelers in 1995, but by 1997 he had returned to the Bengals and his old job as their Defensive Coordinator. The year 2000 would see the 63 year old LeBeau take over in mid-season for the fired Bruce Coslet and become the interim Head Coach of Cincinnati. The interim tag would be removed and in 2001 and 2002 he would be the Head Coach of the Bengals, though he would be replaced following the 2002 season. LeBeau spent one season as the Assistant Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills before returning once again to the Pittsburgh Steelers to take over as Defensive Coordinator in 2004.
During his two plus seasons as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, he would accumulate a record of 12-33.
To this day, Dick LeBeau is regarded as one of the brightest defensive minds in the history of football.