LeBeau refutes retirement rumors
TAMPA, Fla. — Dick LeBeau has no plans to retire if the Steelers win Sunday, even though the defensive coordinator is 71 and could end his illustrious career as a Super Bowl champion.
There had been rumors that LeBeau would step down if the Steelers win a record sixth Super Bowl in his 50th NFL season.
“He said he’s definitely not retiring,” Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior said. “He told us last week.”
LeBeau is in his second stint as Steelers’ defensive coordinator, and this season may have been his finest one yet. The Steelers led the NFL in points allowed, total defense and passing defense, and they finished second in rushing defense.
LeBeau could pass for someone in his early 50s, and it is not uncommon for him to do push-ups while the Steelers players are warming up before practice. He seems to be getting better with age and the grind of the job — LeBeau regularly puts in 14-to-16 hour days — has yet to slow him down.
“The way our players are playing,” LeBeau said, “I’d sure hate to miss another year of this.”
His players revere LeBeau, and they respond to his low-key style because of the success he has had as both player and a coach and because he treats them as people first.
“He has everything to do with the success of everybody on this team,” five-time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu said. “I could barely walk before he came here. He does a great job of putting the right guys in the right situations to be successful.”
Walking away from the game if the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII might be a Disneyesque ending for LeBeau. But retirement appears to be the last thing on LeBeau’s mind.
“It could be a nice story, but he loves us just as much,” said Farrior, who is captain of the defense. “When he’s around, it gives him a good feeling.”