Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Jim LeClair—A Fine Linebacker Gone Too Soon

By John Turney
Monday we got the news that longtime NFL linebacker Jim LeClair passed away at the age of 69. Sadly, gone too soon.

LeClair was a three-year apprentice to Cincinnati Bengal All-Pro Middle linebacker Bill Bergey and then in 1975, when Bergy was sent to the Eagles for a pair of first-round picks LeClair was ready to take over the position.

When he was drafted he was a tall, thin linebacker our of the University of North Dakota. He bulked himself up from about 210 pounds to 235 and increased his strength as well. He was a steady, not spectacular type, but he was efficient, had good size for the era and ran pretty well.

LeClair held it the MLB/ILB job for the next nine seasons (and then was a starter in the USFL for the 1984 season. He led the Bengals in tackles from 1978-81 and had 8.5 sacks and pickoff 10 passes in the NFL (and  2 sacks and 4 picks in the USFL).

He was a Pro Bowler in 1976 and a second-team All-AFC pick in 1982 and was All-USFL in 1984. So. he had some post-season honors.

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