Dick LeBeau, former Lion, resigns as Steelers 'D' coach

Gerry Dulac
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dick LeBeau, one of the most revered defensive coordinators in the NFL who is regarded as the architect of the zone blitz that is copied by so many other teams, has agreed to mutually part ways with the Steelers.

LeBeau, who spent 14 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back for the Lions, just completed his 11th season in his second tour of duty with the Steelers, but he was asked to resign after meeting for several days with coach Mike Tomlin.

"I'm resigning, I'm not retiring," LeBeau said in an interview with the Post-Gazette after the story was first reported by the Urbana (Ohio) Daily Citizen. "It was a lot of great days, a lot of great years. It's time to go in a different direction."

During his tenure with the Steelers, LeBeau's defense ranked No. 1 overall in the league five times and in the top five 10 times.

The likely successor to LeBeau is linebackers coach Keith Butler, who has been with the team since 2003 and been given several indications over the years he will be the next defensive coordinator.

The Steelers have blocked opportunities for Butler to interview with other teams by increasing his pay and giving him a three-year contract when most other assistant coaches get two-year deals.

"It happens," said LeBeau, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who spent 56 years in the league as a player and coach "It's like I'm starting brand new. In this business you can end up in that position."

LeBeau said he did not know if he will continue to coach in the NFL.

"I don't even know, but I'm not retiring," LeBeau said. "There might not be anyone interested."

LeBeau played for the Lions from 1959 to 1972, and is the franchise leader in interceptions with 62.