NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Players and coaches huddled on the Titans logo before practice on Saturday morning, waiting for the man of the hour to come walking through the revolving doors.
On his 80th birthday, a surprise party was waiting for Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Let's just say LeBeau was surprised.
The Titans celebrate defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's 80th birthday before practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
"Oh my God!," LeBeau said as he strolled into the team's indoor practice facility, horns blowing, balloons flying, and two cakes ready to greet him at midfield.
LeBeau was then handed a party hat, and a necklace, before Titans coach Mike Mularkey gave him the first of many hugs.
It was a special occasion for a special man, who will kick off his 59th year in the NFL as a player or coach when the Titans face the Raiders on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
This was clearly LeBeau's day, from the cakes, to the gifts, to the music blaring from the speakers – all the coach's favorite songs, beginning with "Do You Know What I Mean" from Lee Michaels. Then came Hayes Carll's "Beaumont", John Prine's "Long Monday", Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone", Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" and "The Dance" by Garth Brooks.
But those songs came after players and coaches sang "Happy Birthday" to LeBeau as he strolled toward the group, before an impromptu "Hip Hip Hoorah!" broke out. LeBeau seemed embarrassed by all the attention. He pounded his chest at one point, and pointed at the ones celebrating him, smiling.
On one cake, the words "Happy Birthday to the GOAT." It stands for "Greatest of All Time," of course. Another cake was made in the shape of a guitar, with the numbers "8 0" atop.
LeBeau put his arm around defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, and got a hug from linebacker Brian Orakpo. After he blew out the candles, he was swarmed by others, including controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk.
"That was fun," Strunk told LeBeau.
He was clearly touched, and appreciated the moment very much.
Then he took off his party hat.
"OK, let's go to work," he said with a smile. "The party is over."
A look back at Dick LeBeau's first three years with the Titans. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)