"I'm resigning this position, not retiring," LeBeau, 77, told the Urbana Daily Citizen. "I had a great run in Pittsburgh. I'm grateful for all the things that have happened to me and thankful for all the support I had in Pittsburgh."
It's not completely stunning news after Steelers coach Mike Tomlinrefused to make any promises about LeBeau's future following two mediocre seasons for the Pittsburgh defense. LeBeau was the Steelers coordinator for 13 seasons, overseeing two Super Bowl champion squads manned by some classic Steelers (Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith, James Harrison) and LeBeau's equally classic 3-4 defense led by his zone blitz.
LeBeau's remark that he's not retiring is telling. It makes it sound like LeBeau has been pushed out the door, just like the Steelers said former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians "retired" after the 2012 season. (Perhaps LeBeau will join Arians in Arizona.) The Steelers have not commented on LeBeau's remarks.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "It's just time to take a break."
Todd Haley is entrenched as the offensive coordinator and coach Mike Tomlin isn't going anywhere, so it's not like the Steelers are in rebuilding mode after winning a division title. But this gives Tomlin, who has a defensive background, a chance to make his first defensive coordinator hire after eight seasons in Pittsburgh. Tomlin showed a lot of maturity by keeping LeBeau when he arrived in Pittsburgh, and it paid off with two Super Bowl appearances.
"We want to thank Dick for his many years of service with the team and all that he has done for this organization," Tomlin said. "His coaching helped lead us to many successful seasons and championships. We are very appreciative of his efforts, and we wish him well."
The ending is rarely pretty for coaches, but LeBeau will be remembered in Pittsburgh as one of the most successful and influential assistants of his generation.