When Troy Polamalu unveils his Hall of Fame bust, his longtime defensive coordinator will be by his side. Polamalu, the former Steelers safety who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, has chosen former Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to be his presenter.
Polamalu, who shared the news on his social media platforms, worked alongside LeBeau for all but one of his 12 seasons in Pittsburgh. Together, the duo helped the Steelers boast the NFL’s top-ranked scoring defense on four different occasions. Pittsburgh’s defense played an integral role in the Steelers winning Super Bowls XL and XLIII. In 2010, Polamalu won Defensive Player of the Year while helping Pittsburgh win its eighth AFC title.
Polamalu was in the audience when LeBeau received his Hall of Fame induction in 2010. A talented defensive back for the Lions from 1959-72, LeBeau’s 62 career interceptions is tied for the 10th most in NFL history.
LeBeau immediately got into coaching; he received his first coaching job as the Eagles’ special teams coach in 1973. He then spent eight years as a defensive backs coach in Green Bay and Cincinnati, helping the Bengals advance to their first Super Bowl in 1981. LeBeau was promoted to Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator in 1984. Four years later, LeBeau’s innovative zone blitz scheme helped the Bengals to a second Super Bowl berth.
A London, Ohio native who played college football for legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, LeBeau had two separate stints with the Steelers. A member of Bill Cowher’s original coaching staff in Pittsburgh, LeBeau served as the team’s defensive coordinator when the Steelers nearly upset the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX. After returning to Cincinnati (where he spent two years at their head coach), LeBeau returned to Pittsburgh in 2004. That season, the Steelers won a franchise-record 15 regular season games while boasting the league’s top-ranked scoring defense. That was also the breakout season for Polamalu, who earned the his first of his eight career Pro Bowl selections.
LeBeau’s defense spearheaded the Steelers’ eight-game winning streak in 2005 that culminated with a win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Three years later, Pittsburgh’s defense finished first in the NFL in scoring, yards allowed, passing yards allowed and rushing yards allowed. In the 2008 AFC title game, Polamalu’s pick-six sealed the Steelers’ 23-14 win over the Ravens. Two weeks later, Polamalu and LeBeau celebrated their second Super Bowl victory.
“As a football player, a special teams coach, a position coach, a coordinator, a head coach, nobody has done it all like he has,” Polamalu said of LeBeau following Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl XLIII victory. “He’s done everything but own a team. He’s more deserving than Vince Lombardi, if you’re talking to me.”