Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton will face his mentor, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, on Sunday. Horton discussed his relationship with LeBeau today during a news conference. Excerpts are below.
On his history with LeBeau:“I was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and he was my defensive backfield coach, developed into my defensive coordinator, and then I’ve coached with him, or under him, for quite a while. For me, I would say it’s more of a personal than a professional relationship. I think when you have a mentor like that, it is that way; it goes beyond football. I carry some of the life lessons I’ve learned from him into my life and instilled into my children and my coaching career. Probably everything that I am, he’s a big reason why.”
On whether LeBeau shares any off-the-field hobbies with Horton: “Many golf trips, that we’ve been on the road together. Treating people exceptionally well in gas stations, in restaurants. He’s quite the scholar. I would say he’s got that common touch. It’s unbelievable how he treats people. He’s got an uncanny ability to make you think you're the only person in the room that matters.”
On whether he someday thought he would be a coach while playing for LeBeau: “Personally, I thought I would be a coach in college (as a college player), but upon meeting Coach LeBeau, I knew how I wanted to be a coach, and what style of coaching, how I wanted to treat players. I always wanted to be a coach, but he was a role model for me of how to coach.”
On the first time he coached against LeBeau, and whether this game is more special because it’s against his mentor: “No, I don’t think it would be for him. He’s got so many protégés out there. I don’t think so, for him. For me, people say it’s another game; it is another game. I played in Cincinnati. I played in Dallas. I’ve played those teams and it’s so long ago that it doesn’t have the sentimental value. You want to win. Now, if we were playing golf, that would mean a lot to me.”
On what LeBeau’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame meant for Horton: “Everything. For a man to contribute as much as he did, player and coach, and to have as many players on his side, I think, justice for him, and very proud. Most players you hear talk about him, it’s a father-son relationship. I’m sure those guys were just as proud as I was for him.”
On whether he speaks to LeBeau during the season: “No, usually right before the season, we’ll say good luck. He’s awfully quiet during the season, as am I. I don’t pick up the phone. I don’t call people. You try to keep tabs, statistically I do, on how they’re doing, how we’re doing. And then at the end of the year, we talk and compare notes.”