ShareThis Page

LeBeau, Grimm are voted into Hall of Fame

| Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and Scottdale native Russ Grimm were bestowed football's highest honor Saturday.

Former Steelers center Dermontti Dawson, meanwhile, will have to wait at least one more year to join them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

LeBeau and Grimm, a former Steelers assistant head coach and offensive line coach, were among the seven people voted into the Hall of Fame yesterday. They are part of a 2010 class that is headlined by wide receiver Jerry Rice, the best player ever at his position, and Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher.

Those four will be inducted into the Hall of Fame Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio, along with defensive tackle John Randle, running back Floyd Little and linebacker Rickey Jackson, who, like Grimm, starred at Pitt.

LeBeau, who intercepted 62 passes while playing cornerback for the Detroit Lions from 1959-72, and Little were Hall of Fame veterans committee selections.

"It's a lifelong dream, really," LeBeau said. "I just cannot imagine anything else that could be any more rewarding for any individual who has made football, I've been fortunate enough to make football my life pursuit. Now, to have my name alongside all those great NFL players throughout history is an incredibly humbling honor and one that I do not take lightly."

LeBeau is third on the NFL's all-time interceptions list among players who spent their entire career at cornerback. His streak of 171 games played is still an NFL record for cornerbacks.

LeBeau got the call yesterday that many, including former Steelers great Rod Woodson, have said he deserved years ago.

"I just can't believe it, to be honest, and I am so much indebted to our current players and to the players who took me to the Super Bowl and kept my name current even though it's been a long, long time since I've played," LeBeau said. "I'm so grateful to you guys and the plug you gave me last year."

LeBeau will go into the Hall of Fame as a player, but he has also distinguished himself as a coach and innovator. He is considered the architect of the oft-copied zone blitz, and he recently completed his 51st consecutive season in the NFL as a player and a coach.

"Few men in the history of the NFL have contributed more to the league as a player and coach than Dick LeBeau," Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement released by the team. "All of us with the Steelers are thrilled with his selection."

Grimm also had to be elated after gaining entrance to football's most hallowed club as he had been a finalist for the honor four previous times.

Grimm starred at Southmoreland High School and Pitt and then distinguished himself on Washington's vaunted "Hogs" offensive line.

Grimm made the Pro Bowl four consecutive seasons (1983-86) as a guard and anchor on perhaps the best offensive line of its time. He played on three Super Bowl-winning teams during his 11-year career with the Redskins.

"I was lucky to be surrounded by a bunch of guys for a bunch of years and be on some good football teams," Grimm said. "I'm so excited, and it's a privilege to be a part of this class and all of the guys on that list are well-deserved."

Dawson, widely considered one of the top two centers of his era, made progress this year toward gaining football immortality.

He was named a finalist for the first time he became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2005.

The six-time All-Pro selection advanced when the list of 15 modern-day candidates was cut to 10 following a five-plus hour meeting of the 44-person selection committee.

Dawson did not make the final list of five modern-day candidates, all of whom along with LeBeau and Little, received at least 80 percent of the vote.

Jackson, who played for the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers, made it to Canton despite not having been a finalist for the Hall of Fame prior to this year.

The six-time Pro Bowler will become the first person whose contributions were mainly with the Saints to make it into the Hall of Fame.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.