Dick LeBeau has awesome response to questions if he could play in modern era

LeBeau was a star in his era,
Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers
Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

While NFL fans, especially Pittsburgh Steelers fans, will remember Dick LeBeau as perhaps the best defensive coordinator the game has ever seen, it's easy to forget that he was one of the most effective cornerbacks of his era.

LeBeau was a Hall of Fame player in his own right, as his 13-year career with the Detroit Lions was legendary. His No. 44 was a common sight in some of the best secondaries in NFL history, as Detroit had multiple Hall of Fame players at cornerback for 11 of 12 seasons between 1960 and 1972.

LeBeau's musings on life and football have been documented in his new book, Legendary: The 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense, the Zone Blitz, and My Six Decades in the NFL.

As is always the case with players from his era, fans wonder aloud if he could have been as effective against modern athletes like Randy Moss or Antonio Brown. Per LeBeau himself, his penchant for picking off passes would have been just as effective in 2024 as it was in 1964.

“I never had a doubt in my mind,” LeBeau said of covering Moss and Brown. “In fact, one of my favorite things was to poke my players with ‘How many interceptions have you got? It’s in the book, and they total them up. When [Rod] Woodson finally got as many as I had, he called me up that day. I actually played and guarded Bob Hayes of the Dallas Cowboys. He was the Olympic 100-meter champion, so I covered the fastest person on the planet.

Dick LeBeau says he could have covered Randy Moss and Antonio Brown

LeBeau would finish his career with 62 interceptions, a mark that was third in the league when he retired and still lands him in the Top 10. LeBeau made three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in his career with Detroit, but he was often overshadowed by his legendary teammates.

LeBeau played alongside Dick "Night Train" Lane, the hardest-hitting cornerback ever and the owner of the fourth-most interceptions in history. After Night Train left, Hall of Famer Lem Barney slid right in and started cooking. Even safety Yale Lary in LeBeau's early years made it to Canton.

What made LeBeau such a great coordinator is the same things that helped him succeed as a player. While he didn't have Moss' size or speed, nor Brown's short-area quickness, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the game and opposing receivers that helped him play above himself.

LeBeau is one of the greatest defensive minds ever, but younger generations shouldn't lose sight of the fact he was as good as they got at cornerback when he was in his prime.