PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Former Steelers defenders Deshea Townsend, Levon Kirkland, and Kevin Greene joined The Fan Morning Show on Monday morning in the wake up Dick LeBeau’s departure from the Steelers to talk about LeBeau and the impact that he had on the Steelers’ defense.
Greene said that it was difficult to hear about the Steelers and LeBeau parting ways.
“Initially, I had that drop in my gut,” Greene said. “And I hate it for the Pittsburgh Steeler nation, because having played under Coach LeBeau for three years and been a fan of his and a good friend of his for a while, I know him very well, and he is a fine man inside, in his heart, and he is a fine coach. He teaches those kids more than just X’s and O’s. He is a mentor to all those young kids.”
Townsend raved about LeBeau’s leadership ability.
“He gives you his soul,” Townsend said. “He gives you his heart. He gives you everything he has when he goes out there and coaches the game… guys care more when they let him down, when you make a mistake in his defense with how he talks to you and how he cares about you… that’s the feeling and the respect that all guys have for him, just because he’s such a great guy.”
Kirkland explained that LeBeau had a special way of connecting with his players.
“The one thing that coach LeBeau would do- especially after you finished playing and you’re done playing- is he would see you and he would always give you a hug,” Kirkland said. “I mean, we’re in a macho sport, a sport that’s really all about business, and when he sees you, he gives you this big hug. It’s amazing. It really is.”
Townsend- now an assistant coach himself at Mississippi St.- said that LeBeau taught him a vital lesson about handling players.
“There’s always a better way to talk to someone,” Townsend said. “The one thing about coach LeBeau- touchdown, interception, giving up a touchdown, or missing an interception- the way that he approached you and talked to you always seemed like the right way… you get more out of a guy when you know how to talk to him the right way.”
Townsend also raved about LeBeau’s understanding of the game, saying that he coupled it with great leadership to form a legendary body of work.
“The X’s-and-O’s part- there’s no one better,” Townsend said. “The things that he has seen, his talent, his eye for what the offense is going to do, and then also his trust and belief in his players is something that rubbed off on me.”
Greene- who also moved on to have his own coaching career, serving as a linebackers coach with the Packers- said that he also tried to learn from LeBeau’s handling of players.
“I just know the way he coached us,” Greene said. “Just a very calm, manner-of-fact, loving way. Nothing degrading, nothing demeaning, never cussing us. Always loving us and building us up more than tearing us down. So that’s a lot of the way I try to coach.”
Kirkland finds the notion that LeBeau got too old for the job to be laughable.
“It’s foolish because this guy had more wisdom in his one pinky than most coaches have in their whole bodies,” Kirkland said. “I don’t think that the game would ever pass Coach LeBeau by. I mean, he’s been there for as long as anybody could possibly be there, so the game never passed him by. If people want to move on, then people want to move on, but the game hasn’t passed him by. Trust me.”