BY GEOFF HOBSON
George Farmer had more than a passing interest in Wednesday's news that floated out to southern California.
Dick LeBeau had just been given a multi-year deal to coach the Bengals and that pleased Farmer because his son's break-out game had as much to do with LeBeau getting the job as anyone. Danny Farmer, a rookie receiver, caught four balls for 87 yards in the final 3:43 of the Bengals' 17-14 victory over Jacksonville.
George Farmer knew LeBeau long before that, though. Thirty years to be exact. Back when George Farmer was a rookie receiver for the Chicago Bears going against the 33-year-old LeBeau, firmly established as one of the NFL's top cornerbacks.
"Dick was one of those guys who would do anything to help his team win," George Farmer said. "He played the position almost like a free safety. Like Paul Krause in Minnesota. He was a ball hawk. If his hips got turned, he could turn his back and run with you. He had ways to adjust not being the fastest guy."
If you've seen Danny Farmer play, then you've seen George Farmer play. About 6-3, 215 pounds.
Both played at UCLA. George a third-round pick, the first pick of the draft for the Bears in 1970. Danny, a fourth-round pick of the Steelers 30 years later. Cut by Pittsburgh and picked up by Cincinnati.
Both strong enough to fend off people at the line of scrimmage with their hands and fast enough to run by people at key times.
Both had their break-out NFL game in their rookie years. George remembers breaking 100 yards against the Packers, on his way to 25th on the Bears' all-time list with 1,909 yards. He caught 113 balls for nearly 17 yards per catch in Chicago from 1970-75 before ending his career with the Lions the next season.
The father didn't bat an eye at the son's 102–yard performance.
"That's what he's been doing his whole career," George Farmer said. "That's what we expect."
LeBeau remembers George Farmer:
Continued from Homepage
"Big guy, same kind of guy as Danny. He could jump. Good player. "
George was a leaper at UCLA, but he doesn't remember the pros taking advantage of tall receivers being able to jump like they do nowadays.
"I think Harold Carmichael for the Eagles was the first guy they really started to do that with," said George of the 6-8 receiver who came into the league a year after he did. "These fade routes they run now, we almost never did that. But it's a weapon."
George Farmer thinks he beat LeBeau a few times, "running a post corner." LeBeau thinks he might have, but he told Danny, "let's check the scorebook."
"Did the Bears ever beat you when he was playing, Coach?" Danny asked LeBeau.
"I don't think very much," LeBeau said.
Check the scorebook and the Lions were 5-1 against Chicago from Farmer's rookie year until LeBeau retired after the '72 season.
"I'm glad Dick got the job," George Farmer said. "His view of the game is a little older. A different slant on things. An old value on working hard and achieving."