I'm not a professional writer. I'm not fortunate enough to be on location, at the Super Bowl, like our favorite intrepid reporter Mr. Tunison.
But, if you will, allow me a brief story:
This morning I woke up and immediately went about the process of digging my automobile out from under the 20-22" of snow that was dumped in the past day or so in and around the Pittsburgh area. It was at this point that my neighbor's garage door began to lift and he took notice of my efforts. He waived and said, "Wow, looks like we got quite the snow storm last night." We exchanged small-talk and eventually, noticed a young lady that had managed to get her VW Bug stuck in the snow. We worked together, he directing her steering and driving efforts and I pushing on her front end bumper to free the car. At this point, my neighbor headed for his door with a friendly, "Good luck getting yourself out of that," to which I replied, "You too. And good luck getting in to the Hall of Fame today, Sir."
But Dick LeBeau didn't need my or anyone's luck. He was voted into The National Football League's Hall of Fame today, a selection from the Hall's senior committee. LeBeau had an impressive 14-year career as defensive back for the Detroit Lions, during which time he amassed 62 interceptions and three Pro Bowl trips. But, it is his innovative defensive "zone-blitz" scheme and astounding 37-year career as coach that likely landed Dick in Canton.
To add a little note of irony, I wrote last year prior to the Super Bowl about a chance run in with Mr. LeBeau. I was struck by his sheer enjoyment of the game and the reverence his players have for him. Many of you have heard the story of The Steelers' entire roster wearing LeBeau's Lions jersey as a show of support after the passing of his mother and prior to the Super Bowl. The list of former pupils that have played for LeBeau reads like a "Who's Who" of defensive stand-outs. And it is certainly no coincidence that another name on the NFL's list of all time greats, Rod Woodson's acceptance speech gave much credit and shined a light on LeBeau's merit as candidate.
I'm like most of you, I'd imagine. I've had the opportunity to meet and speak with a few current and former professional athletes and coaches. I must say NONE of them has been as impressive and as down-to-earth as Mr. LeBeau. This simply couldn't have happened to more deserving, and neighborly guy.