The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company kicked off the spring 2013 “Hometown Hall of Famers™” ceremonies on Wednesday, Feb. 20 by honoring Hall of Fame cornerback and current Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Coordinator with a plaque dedication ceremony at his London High School alma mater in London, Ohio.
London High School Principal Chad Eisler welcomed LeBeau back in front of more than 500 students, family, friends and former teammates. LeBeau entered the gymnasium and walked through a line-up of London High School football players giving a high-five to each player.
Dick’s older brother Bob LeBeau presented the plaque and expressed how honored he was to be able to introduce his brother at both his Hall of Fame induction in Canton and now as a “Hometown Hall of Famer™.” Bob told the students that his brother’s statistics as a player were impressive, but his leadership as a coach was even more astounding.
The band played the school fight song as the LeBeau brothers unveiled the plaque together. Dick took a moment to admire the plaque before addressing the crowd and sharing how the small town of London will always be his home.
“Coming from a smaller town is not a disadvantage,” said LeBeau. “It is an advantage. I wouldn’t trade my upbringing here for anything. This community was and still is like a family to me. When people ask me where I’m from I don’t say Columbus, or Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati – I mention my hometown of London, Ohio.”
Additional speakers included Steve Sweeney, an Allstate field sales leader in Columbus, Ohio, and Brock Richards, program director for Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises.
“This plaque could reside at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, but instead chose London High School as its permanent home,” said Richards. “Today, London High School becomes the 53rd school to be an official extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative “Hometown Hall of Famers™” road sign will be on display in London.
“On behalf of Allstate and all our agents in the area, I am privileged to help honor the legacy of Pro Football Hall of Fame member and recognize London High School with a hometown plaque and commemorative road sign here today,” said Sweeney.
A football and basketball standout at London High School in the 1950s, LeBeau went on to play under the tutelage of legendary head coach Woody Hayes at the Ohio State University where he was a key member of the Buckeyes’ 1957 National Championship team. Although selected in the fifth round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, LeBeau was cut during his rookie training camp. He then signed with the Detroit Lions and eventually earned a place in the team’s starting lineup for the final six games of his rookie season.
LeBeau quickly established himself as a proficient player for the Lions. In his 185-game career that spanned 14 seasons with the Lions, LeBeau recorded 62 interceptions which he returned for 762 yards and three touchdowns. Starting in 1960, he had a string of 12 straight seasons with three or more interceptions. In 1970, he intercepted an NFC-leading nine picks for 96 yards. At the time of his retirement, LeBeau’s total interceptions ranked first in Lions’ history and third all-time in NFL history. LeBeau was selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls and earned All-NFL second-team accolades four times.
LeBeau was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
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