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80th birthday looming, Dick LeBeau still sees himself as a “Bengal and Brown guy”

Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 03: Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches his team warm up prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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He’s a Hall of Famer best known for playing for the Lions and coaching with the Steelers. But Dick LeBeau, the soon-to-be 80-year-old assistant head coach of the Titans, identifies with a team that cut him, and with another that fired him, multiple times.

“I’ve always been really a Bengal and Brown guy at heart, like I am a Buckeye, because I am from Ohio and I like the Ohio teams,” LeBeau recently told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

It was Paul Brown, then coach of the Browns, who drafted LeBeau before cutting him. And it was Paul Brown, then owner of the Bengals, who hired LeBeau to serve as defensive backs coach in 1980.

LeBeau initially spent 11 years with the Bengals, helping the team to a pair of Super Bowls and climbing to defensive coordinator. Fired after the 1991 season, he landed in Pittsburgh as defensive backs coach, again making it to the role of defensive coordinator. He returned to the Bengals in 1997 as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, later becoming head coach in 2000. He was fired after three seasons.

The return to Pittsburgh in 2004 started LeBeau’s most successful decade in coaching, with a pair of Super Bowl wins. Nudged aside for Keith Butler in 2015, LeBeau joined the Titans, where he’s been for two seasons and counting.

With many making Tennessee a trendy postseason pick, LeBeau could still get to another Super Bowl before calling it a career. Regardless of what happens, he’ll likely still see himself as a Bengal and a Brown, despite those two gaudy Super Bowl rings that celebrate their despised rivals from Pittsburgh.