Steelers Notebook: LeBeau gave players props during speech

If Dick LeBeau were awed at the site of the entire Steelers organization and more turning out for his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he should have seen the reactions of some players he mentioned in his speech.

LeBeau took time to call out a number of current and former Steelers in Canton, Ohio, Saturday night, including cornerback Ike Taylor and nose tackle Casey Hampton.

"My phone was blowing up," Taylor said about the immediate reaction of hearing his name called by LeBeau. "I had my phone on vibrate; I could hear the phone, zzzz, zzzz, zzzzz.

"I didn't expect that at all. That speaks volumes how he thinks of me, what he thinks about me as a person and a player. I didn't know he thought that of me. That's a cool feeling coming from a guy like coach, inducted into the Hall of Fame and what he did for the league for 50 years coaching and playing. Just for him to mention somebody's name, let alone to give a little feedback on the person is an honor."

Hampton called it "special."

"He coached a lot of players and for him to mention my name in his induction speech, that's real special. He can talk about a whole lot of people, players he played with and players he coached. For me to be one of them was special."

Nice compliment

Hines Ward has surpassed statistically two former Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Lynn Swann and John Sallworth.

Did he think about him someday making it as he spent time in Canton?

"No," Ward answered quickly. "Some of the guys, when we were walking through, said 'be ready' but I don't get into that. For me, it was a compliment to have some of the greatest players in this game tell me how they appreciate the way I play the game. It was a great moment, and to see some of the former Steelers up there, it was a great night."

Among those who Ward said complimented him for his style of play was Floyd Little, the former Denver running back who made it as a seniors candidate along with LeBeau.

"Floyd Little actually came up and said something, said he was a huge fan," Ward said. "Wow, I just watched The Express."

The Express, a movie about Uniontown native Ernie Davis, shows Little being recruited to Syracuse to succeed the Heisman Trophy winner at running back.

Return trip?

Ward said he is looking forward to attending another Hall of Fame ceremony next summer to watch his friend Jerome Bettis go in on his first try.

"We know Jerome's going to be in there, it's just a matter of time," Ward said. "I would love to see him on the first ballot, whatever. I don't care if you're on the first ballot or 10th ballot, it really doesn't matter.

"Jerome is still one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game. He will be in there and when that day comes, I'll be in the audience again. He meant so much to me throughout my whole career, I owe him that. We'll cross our fingers and hope he gets in on the first ballot."

Extended leave

Coach Mike Tomlin said LeBeau might not be in camp for a few days because of Hall of Fame commitments.

"I want him to soak up and enjoy it. He'll be here when he gets here. By no means are we going to put him on the clock. He can waive and do as much as he likes to, we'll be here when he gets back."

Quick hits

The Steelers waived injured safety Tuff Harris and re-signed safety Da'Mon Cromartie Smith, who was signed as a rookie free agent and released before training camp began. Harris' shoulder was injured in practice Friday night. ... Linebacker James Harrison was held out of practice Sunday for no reason other than "I wasn't interested in seeing James Harrison in short-yardage situation," Tomlin said. "I know what he's capable of."... Wide receiver Mike Wallace was given the day off to attend to his first child's birth. ... For the first time this camp, the parking lots at Saint Vincent were filled to capacity and cars had to be turned away.

For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette On the Steelers at . First Published August 9, 2010 4:00 AM


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