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Have at it: LeBeau's Hall of Fame status

As you move past Super Bowl XLIV, let’s circle back on another event that occurred in South Florida over the weekend: The election of Dick LeBeau to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

For coverage purposes, I considered LeBeau’s honor to be AFC North property after his long and distinguished career as a coach in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Many of you disagreed, noting LeBeau’s credentials as a cornerback in Detroit from 1959-72.

JohnWayne506th was particularly adamant. Expletives were deleted:

Come on Kevin!!! …The Lions get a HOF'er in and you just let the AFC North guy take him??? He was a DC there but he played his career here getting 62 INTS, which if I remember right was 2nd place when he retired. … This is the NFCN blog and he was an NFCN player. Now go get it back!!!

You’re right, John, LeBeau’s 62 interceptions did in fact rank second all-time in the NFL when he retired. He still ranks eighth, as you see in the chart accompanying this post. During the meat of his career, from 1960-71, no NFL player had more interceptions.

So while I make my way back to NFC North headquarters, let me know what you think: Was LeBeau a Hall of Fame player independent of his success as a coach?

In other words: Would he have made the Hall of Fame if he had never gone into coaching? Assuming Detroit readers are ready to drop their boycott, I’ll post a representative sample of your responses -- along with my own take -- later this week. Have at it.