LeBeau Makes 7th Hole-in-One; Turns Focus to 'D'

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dick LeBeau's still got it – on the football field, and on the golf course.

Case in point: LeBeau made another hole-in-one over the summer. It was his seventh.

"But I hadn't had one for 10 years before that, so I was thinking my hole-in-one days would be gone,'' LeBeau said with a smile after the Titans wrapped up practice on Sunday. "So that was a good thing. Yeah, it was a thrill."

LeBeau, who'll turn 79 in September, still has the fire in his belly to coach, and play golf. He's in his second training camp with the Titans, but the 58th in his NFL career. LeBeau joined the Titans last season, and is back as assistant head coach/defensive coordinator with the team under Mike Mularkey.

"You count high school and college, and I have been to a few training camps,'' said LeBeau, a Hall of Fame player with the Detroit Lions. "But I enjoy it, and this one in particularly because of the situation of this team and the players and the way they are responding to the challenge. It is exciting to be a part of it."

LeBeau didn't tell anyone about his hole-in-one, which took place on Hole No.7 at Temple Hills back in June. He used a 7-iron, and hit a Titleist. The accomplishment came up during a casual conversation when he was asked about the most exciting thing he did over the summer.

"The hole is about 156 yards,'' LeBeau recalled. "I was playing with the assistant pro, and he has younger eyes than me. I told him when I hit it: "I think that was a pretty good shot." He said: "Yeah, I think so, it's in the hole." I knew it was right at the hole, and I guess it just rolled right in."

LeBeau shot a 71 that day on the par-72 course.

So why didn't he brag about his ace?

"That's not my style,'' said LeBeau, who made his first hole-in-one back in the early-1960s when he was a player in the NFL. "You asked me what the most exciting thing I did this summer, and that was it. Otherwise it wouldn't have come up."

It was certainly news to Mularkey.

"Really,'' Mularkey said. "Will I ever have a hole-in-one? No."

Titans kicker Ryan Succop, an avid golfer himself, didn't know either.

"That sneaky devil,'' Succop said of LeBeau. "I've had zero (hole-in-ones). I am still waiting on my first and I am a little bit envious.

"I do know this: Coach LeBeau is a really good player. He shoots in the 60s all the time. It is unbelievable. We played last spring together and it was one of the coolest rounds of golf I've ever gotten to play. He has a phenomenal golf game and it is incredible to see someone of that age be that skilled and that competitive."

LeBeau's focus now, of course, is to keep the low scores on the opposing team's offense.

Regarded as one of the greatest defensive minds in the game, LeBeau joined the Titans after a stellar career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where his defenses recorded 10 top-five rankings and five seasons at No. 1 during his time with the team.

In Tennessee, he wants to build another strong defensive unit. A year ago the team finished 12th overall in total defense.

"We talk about positive things and having success on the defense,'' LeBeau said, "and we are focusing on doing everything we can do to become the best defense that we can become, and we think if we can approximate that then it will be a pretty good defense.

"It remains to be seen how good we can be. But I think we have an opportunity to be a very, very competitive defense. And I'm excited to be here, to be a part of it."

Titans players take the field for Day 2 of training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Donn Jones Photography.com)

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