The town of Canton, Ohio is not far from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Just over two hours by car, to be exact. For this simple reason it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone how Pittsburgh Steelers fans invade Canton whenever one of their favorite players or coaches is to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As someone who has family in Canton, they always talk about the Terrible Towels which are seen everywhere the week of induction when a member of the Steelers is inducted, but I don’t think anyone can prepare for what is about to unfold this summer.
This summer, with two classes being inducted together thanks to COVID-19, the Steelers will have the following individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame:
Class of 2020
Class of 2021
That is a lot of black and gold which will be on display both August 7th and 8th when they all receive their gold jackets and unveil their busts. With enshrinement just over a month away, all players and coaches who are being inducted have selected who will be presenting them at the ceremony. Bill Cowher will have Art Rooney II, Alan Faneca chose Hines Ward, but the most notable was when Troy Polamalu selected former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to present him.
When LeBeau heard of Polamalu being a first ballot inductee he was excited to just be there to watch his prized pupil get the recognition he deserves, but when Polamalu asked him to present him it meant a lot to the Hall of Fame player/coach.
“I am very honored. I can tell you that,” LeBeau told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “I was so thrilled and happy for Troy when he got selected. I thought it would be unbelievably great if I was there just to see it. It was just so important to me that Troy go in, and that he got in with the first opportunity that was available to him. I had been telling everyone for five years that Troy would go in on the first chance he had because he was that great and certainly deserves it.
“Troy has a lot of people in his life. I would have understood wherever he went. I was over the moon when he did call and say he would like me to present him.
“Our players were like my sons. You saw it, you know personally how close we were as a defense. It’s going to be great putting your son in there.”
LeBeau doesn’t just appreciate, and love, all of his players, but he recognizes now just how perfect the tandem of Polamalu and LeBeau were at that time. It was a match made in football heaven.
“I think there are many situations like that on that defense where we were so close to each other,” said LeBeau. “They were extremely talented and were so successful. That 2008 defense, I don’t know if anybody will put numbers up like that ever again. It was such an honor and a blessing to be a part of that.
“I think in the situation with Troy, his particular talent and ability matched up perfectly with the way I like to attack on defense. I think it was just a perfect union.”
LeBeau is beloved by everyone who ever played for him, and he reciprocated that appreciation and love for all of his players. It makes the moment presenting Polamalu even sweeter. How sweet? Sweet enough where he will be as happy unveiling Polamalu’s bust as he was when he unveiled his own when he was inducted in 2010.
“I couldn’t think of a happier moment. It will be ever bit as happy as when we were unveiling my bust,” LeBeau said. “I think there may be some more Steelers off of that group going in there one day.
“The popularity of Troy was nationwide, probably worldwide, but I can’t substantiate that. I do know he was famous and well known and a favorite player of people across this country. That is where great, great stars end up. They end up in the Hall of Fame of their sport. In Troy’s particular case, he is every bit as good a man, husband, and father as he is a football player. That is a great combination.
“I can’t wait for it. That is one of the neatest things about getting to be there, have the honor to be there by his side, is to see his friends and teammates. I know when I went in in 2010, the franchise took the whole team there and they all sat back in the left together. I couldn’t look back there at them. I would have started crying.
“It’s going to be so neat to be back in that arena and see the guys that were there when I went in, now there to support one of their own who is going in. It’s going to be great. A family reunion without a doubt.”
It will certainly be a family reunion in many ways. Not only are the Steelers having all of the aforementioned individuals being inducted, but you can imagine all of the other players who will be in attendance. It is expected many of the players from the great 70s teams will be there to usher in Shell, as will the great players of the 90s and 00s to see Coach Cowher, Polamalu and Faneca get inducted as well.
This weekend in August will be one to remember, and LeBeau being an integral part of it just seems to fit.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.