Greatest Detroit Lions By Number: No. 24

Dick LeBea No. 24

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Ranking the greatest Detroit Lions of all time is no easy task to accomplish. From No. 1 all the way up to No. 99, I will attempt to rank the greatest Lions players for each jersey number. This list continues with my selection for the best at No. 24.

One of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history and now one of the greatest defensive coordinators in NFL history, Dick LeBeau made his mark in the NFL as a defensive back for the Lions in the 1960s before becoming a Hall of Fame defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

LeBeau was a fifth-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 1959 before being cut in training camp that year. He would then sign with Detroit and team with both Dick “Night Train” Lane and Lem Barney to give the Lions two great cornerback tandems in the 1960s. LeBeau holds the record for most interceptions in Lions history with 62, which stands at seventh-most all-time up to this point. LeBeau was a three-time Pro Bowler from 1964-66, but despite all of his accomplishments, LeBeau only made the postseason once during his 14-year career. In 1970, LeBeau picked off nine passes that season, but the Lions lost to the Super Bowl runner-up Dallas Cowboys 5-0. LeBeau would be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame exactly 40 years later in 2010 for his contributions as a player.

Now LeBeau is mostly known today as one of the best defensive coordinators of all time. In his more than 40 years of coaching, LeBeau has helped both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Steelers reach multiple Super Bowl appearances. He was the defensive backs coach on the 1981 Bengals team that lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 16 and was also the defensive coordinator of the 1988 squad that also lost to San Francisco in Super Bowl 23.

As a Steeler, LeBeau was the defensive coordinator of the 1995 Steelers that lost to Dallas in Super Bowl 30. He was also therefor both the 2005 and 2008 Steelers teams that would win Super Bowls 40 and 43 respectively as well as the 2010 team that lost Super Bowl 45 to the Green Bay Packers. While LeBeau will be mostly known now as the architect of Pittsburgh’s famed 3-4 defense, his legacy will be as a Hall of Fame defensive back for the Detroit Lions.

Other nominees: Dexter Bussey (1974-84), Mel Farr (1967-73), Jack Christiansen (1951-58)

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Brian Kalchik is a Detroit Lions writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and connect with him on Google.


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