NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans assistant head coach/defense Dick LeBeau knew Steve Spurrier long before he became known simply as the Head Ball Coach.
Back in the late 1960s, the two squared off on the football field as players. LeBeau was a defensive back with the Detroit Lions then, when Spurrier played quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers.
"Steve was a great player,'' LeBeau said. "He was a Heisman Trophy winner — that says it all."
With a smile, on Thursday LeBeau recalled a moment from many decades ago. A Hall of Fame player, LeBeau remembered intercepting Spurrier, a first round pick by the 49ers in 1967, when the two teams met back in the late '60s.
"As a matter of fact I did, since you asked,'' said LeBeau, who had 62 career interceptions while playing from 1959-1972 with the Lions. "We had multiple interceptions that day, I remember that."
LeBeau, who turned 78 last month, faced Spurrier twice as a player in the late 1960s. The Lions crushed the 49ers 45-3 in 1967, when Spurrier, in his rookie season with the 49ers, threw an interception. Another 49ers quarterback – John Brodie, threw four picks that day.
In 1969, Spurrier threw four interceptions in a 26-14 loss to the Lions. LeBeau had an interception in that game as well.
Earlier this week, Spurrier announced his resignation at the University of South Carolina. The 70-year-old Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy at Florida. He served as a head coach at Duke, Florida, and South Carolina in the collegiate ranks, along with a stint in the NFL with the Washington Redskins.
"I've played golf with Steve many times. I think he is a great person and a great coach,'' LeBeau said. "He was in a category of his own, no doubt."
LeBeau said Spurrier is a "damn good golfer," but said "I'd hold my own" in competition. He didn't say who won those matches.
LeBeau said Spurrier's resignation after 11 seasons at South Carolina came as a surprise.
"I don't know the situation. I don't know anything about it,'' LeBeau said. "But it was a surprise. I know he's a heck of a coach."