After a short stint at Minnesota-Crookston, Jim Transferred to North Dakota. Still not gaining the eyes of professional scouts, it took an incredible banner year for the linebacker to finally get the attention he deserved. He was credited with 187 tackles, three interceptions, four fumble recoveries, 11 forced fumbles, and 20 tackles for loss in 1971, and captured Little All-American Honors for his titanic performance. – Just incredible numbers. LeClair was selected by Paul Brown’s Bengals in the 3rd round of the 1972 draft, where he’d spell equally impressive Bill Bergey and primarily play special teams. While Bergey moved on to the Eagles in ’73, it was obvious that the mantle at middle linebacker soon would rest on Jim’s shoulders. By 1975 LeClair had really taken off at the position, making a career high 3 picks in 14 games that year. In 1976, Jim received his first Pro Bowl nomination. In 1980, the Bengals switched to a 3-4 defense, and Jim moved to LILB, playing for the team through 1983. Bill by this point had been playing for 12 seasons, but still had the sport in his veins, and signed with the USFL’s New Jersey Generals. He’d finish his career there in 1984, but still manages to make it down to a game or two to cheer on the Bengals each season.
He’s currently retired and lives in North Dakota, spending time as an insurance agent. Jim has done some wild stuff over his days, as an Army reservist, including wrestling a bear to a draw. Not a Chicago bear, – a real bear. He’s been a mayor and was head coach of the Mayville State University football team from 1986 – 1988. He has been inducted into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame and also is a 1999 member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
G 158 Tac N/a Sac N/a Fum 10
Int 10 Yds 64 Avg 6.4 Td 0 Lg 21