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Dick LeBeau faces challenge of reinvention in 2014

The difference between one-hit wonders and legends is the application of past success with modern trends. Dick LeBeau doesn't need to re-invent the wheel, he just needs to make those wheels fit with the framework that's brought success previously.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing in this game is original. Someone will lay claim to something someone else is doing, and at the very least, most will just admit it.

Not like anything schematically is proprietary. The Steelers didn't invent the 3-4 defense. Peyton Manning didn't invent the no huddle offense. No one will do anything in the 2014 season that hasn't been done at some point somewhere else.

There's even some moron who thinks Led Zeppelin ripped off the riff to Stairway to Heaven. Pity to those who feel their work is sacred if not trademarked. The marks of the trade in music are finite, just like 11 players to a side in the game of football. Limited options become limitless when variants and strains of notes and formations are blended.

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was around for Led Zeppelin. He may have even gotten the Led out a few times. Whether Zeppelin did sample/borrow/copy that riff is irrelevant, just like teams ripping off his zone blitz scheme doesn't matter.

It's not invention in football, it's re-invention. It's not who writes the tune or puts chalk to board, it's which group plays those notes or executes the scheme.

LeBeau even said in his Hall of Fame speech, a coach is only as good as his players. That's akin to a guitarist saying he's only as good as his instrument. There's some truth to it, but it's no more realistic than Mike Shanahan claiming he invented the zone running scheme (he has not made such claims, to my knowledge but seems like the type who wouldn't prevent people from assuming it).

Any musician will tell you there's skill and there's timing. Not just the timing of putting stick to snare, but finding the right group of musicians with whom to play. Bruce Springsteen was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, but so was the E Street Band.

LeBeau's schemes would mean little today if not for the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making le-gen-dary Pitts-Burgh STEELERS" defenders. Like The Boss with Nebraska, LeBeau left Pittsburgh to make his own mark on the Bengals, only to return. The Rising of Pittsburgh's defensive rankings has been as reliable as conversations regarding Reagan each time Born in the U.S.A. is played.

Except for 2013. Perhaps the Long Walk Home taken by several Steelers' veteran defensive players was on the same level in terms of impact as the death of the Big Man. There's time to reflect, but the motion is forward. The band must play on, and in that, the natural assumption is it will simply have to re-invent itself.


LeBeau, Led Zeppelin, The Boss, whomever, may not invent their art. In the grand scheme of history, their contributions will be original for the time, and remakes of what came before them. The original may have its own place in the recordings of history, but the future will be written, and their legacies sealed, through the ability to find what's worked and add a new twist to it. A drum roll here, and stunt and twist there. New sound, new blitz, that's the challenge for the creation artist. A leader who's primary job is to make others better must realize the only constant is change.

The challenge for LeBeau in 2014 isn't to re-invent the Wings for Wheels, but rather, give the new wheels the old wings.