AFC North: John Randle

Dick LeBeauAndrew Weber/US PresswireDick LeBeau cherished his moment at the podium. "Life is a gift. It's a joy," he said.

CANTON, Ohio -- Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and president Art Rooney II stood side-by-side as dozens of players behind them gradually stepped off the team's buses.

Each player carried a Terrible Towel as he entered Fawcett Stadium. Many Steelers smiled as one of their own -- a coach, a mentor, and in some ways a father figure -- was about to enter football immortality.

It was a joyous and celebratory day for Dick LeBeau. The longtime Steelers defensive coordinator and former Pro Bowl cornerback with the Detroit Lions received his Hall of Fame bust Saturday after recording 62 career interceptions and becoming one of the greatest defensive minds in football history.

"It's very special," Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith said. "He's done more for me as a person off the field than he could ever do with me on the field. It’s just an honor."

LeBeau joined an outstanding 2010 Hall of Fame class that also included Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, John Randle, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson and Floyd Little. LeBeau went in as a Lions player, but Saturday’s induction had more of a Steeler Nation feel to it.

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AP Photo/Mark DuncanMembers of the Pittsburgh Steelers cheered on Dick LeBeau on Saturday.
Steelers coaching staff and players made the trip from training camp in Latrobe, Pa., to support and honor LeBeau. They proudly stood in a roped-off section to the left of the stage and waved their Terrible Towels.

LeBeau's brother, Bob, introduced him and soaked in every moment.

"Man, this really is a great day to be alive!" Dick LeBeau said.

Dick LeBeau spent most of his adult life making life hard on quarterbacks. His 62 picks are eighth all time. His invention of the zone blitz defense also led the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles, making him arguably the greatest assistant coach in NFL history.

One of the first things LeBeau did Saturday was give credit to his players, which is something he does frequently. His wisdom and youthful energy have helped him relate to players during his coaching career.

In typical LeBeau fashion, he credited many of the people who shaped his career and contributed to his success. The Steelers hung on LeBeau’s every word during his speech and were equally complimentary.

Some Pittsburgh players have been to Canton to participate in the Hall of Fame Game, but this was the first time many got to enjoy the ceremony.

"It's great to be a part of this induction," Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden said. "It's a lot different actually getting to see this and celebrate it. For us this is very important."

LeBeau, 72, is coaching on a year-to-year basis with Pittsburgh. But his legend and contribution to football for more than 50 years were officially solidified Saturday night.

Showing his wisdom and charm, LeBeau left the crowd at Fawcett Stadium with a strong message.

"Life is for living, folks," LeBeau said. "Don't let a number be anything other than a number. Don't let somebody tell you that you're too old to do this or too old to do that. Stay in life. Life is a gift. It's a joy. Don't drop out of it."
Here is a memo to Cincinnati Bengals fans: Tickets for the Hall of Fame Game between Cincinnati and the Dallas Cowboys will go on sale Tuesday.

The game, which is the first exhibition of the 2010 season, will be held at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 8. Tickets range from $47 to $62.

Cincinnati facing off against Dallas will be one of the many events scheduled for this year's Hall of Fame ceremony. The 2010 class consists of Dick LeBeau, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Floyd Little and John Randle.

Dawson continues to wait for Hall

February, 6, 2010
One of the top centers of all-time will continue to play the waiting game.

Thirteen-year Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Dermontti Dawson, who made seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1992-98, was once again passed over for the Hall of Fame. This was the sixth consecutive time he failed to make it to Canton since becoming eligible in 2005.

Dawson made the cut from 15 to 10 finalists this year. But Dawson wasn't part of the five inductees that included Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Russ Grimm, John Randle and Rickey Jackson. Senior nominees Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little also are part of the 2010 class.

This year was perhaps the closest Dawson came to making the Hall of Fame. He also was a finalist in 2008 and a semifinalist in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

There is an impressive backlog of players currently not in the Hall of Fame. In addition to Dawson, strong candidates such as Cris Carter, Cortez Kennedy, Richard Dent, Andre Reed, Charles Haley, Tim Brown and Roger Craig were all rejected this year alone.

Several more impressive candidates such as Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Jonathan Ogden and Jerome Bettis also will be eligible very soon. That will further congest the Hall of Fame voting process, which doesn't help Dawson's candidacy.