The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s induction committee righted a major wrong today when they voted to enshrine Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau into Canton.
Pittsburgh native and Former Steelers offensive line and assistant head coach Russ Grimm was also inducted as was Ricky Jackson, who played his college ball at Pitt.
This otherwise great day for Pittsburgh football comes with an asterix however, as former Steelers Center Dermontti Dawson yet again failed to find favor with the Hall of Fame voters, despite being a perennial All Pro and anchoring some of the NFL’s best offensive lines in the 1990’s.
Way to Go LeBeau!
LeBeau played as a stand out cornerback for the Detroit Lions for 14 seasons, starting in the 1950’s. When he retired Dick LeBeau’s 62 career interceptions was number three on the league’s All-Time interceptions list. Almost 40 years later, LeBeau still holds the 8th spot on the NFL's career interception leader list.
LeBeau’s performance on the field should have been enough to earn him a spot in Canton, but he entered the Hall of Fame on a more circuitous route, being elected as a member of the Senior Committee.
There is no Assistant Coach category for the Hall of Fame, but many argued that LeBeau’s accomplishments as a defensive coordinator alone warranted induction into Canton.
Dick LeBeau is the father of the “Zone Blitz” which he first deployed as the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1980’s. Later, when he joined Bill Cowher’s first staff as defensive backs coach in 1992, LeBeau worked with Cowher, Dom Capers, and Marv Lewis as they further developed the zone blitz concept and elevated it to the point where they became the standard of defensive excellence in the NFL.
If induction to the NFL Hall of Fame is to an “Individual Accomplishment” as Dan Rooney frequently insists, Dick LeBeau resume hold’s up against anyone’s. He has stood on the sidelines at the Super Bowl as a defensive coordinator 4 times, walking away victoriously twice, in Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII.
While many came down hard on LeBeau for the breakdowns that gave Arizona the lead with just over two minutes remaining in Super Bowl XLIII, Steel Curtain Rising has steadfastly argued that Dick LeBeau in fact won the chess match in that game.
A Downer for Dermontti
The Steelers drafted Dermontti Dawson in the second round of the 1988 draft. He started at guard as a rookie, doing a one year apprenticeship as he took of the reigns from Mike Webster in 1989 and played a pivotal role in the 1989 Steelers playoff season. Dawson went on to become a pillar of offensive line excellence for the next decade.
Dawson’s peers would elect him to seven Pro Bowls and he would make 6 All Pro Teams. Despite those accomplishments, Dawson has failed to make it into the Hall of Fame even though he has been eligible for election since 2005.
He did however, take a step forward of sorts, making it to the final group of semi-finalists.
Good For Grimm Too
The Steelers and Redskins should be rivals, as any Steelers fan who grew up in or lived in the DC area will swear to. But Russ Grimm made tremendous accomplishments to the Steelers legacy at offensive line, and Steelers Nation should congratulate him on his induction.