Remembering Joe Delaney, 30 years later

Brian McIntyre
Shutdown Corner

This week saw one NFL player charged with first-degree murder (Aaron Hernandez), another player charged with attempted murder (Ausar Walcott) and a third player (Josh Brent) jailed after failing a second drug test while out on bond on an intoxicated manslaughter charge that involved the death of teammate Jerry Brown.

It is important to remember that those individuals represent 0.001 percent of the 2,880 players on NFL rosters this offseason. Still, after a week as miserable as the one we've just witnessed, we should remember that most NFL players are law-abiding citizens. Some are heroes.

Thirty years ago today, Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney noticed three young boys thrashing in a man-made water hole in Monroe, Louisiana. Unbeknownst to the boys, the hole had a deep end and the boys were in distress.

As recalled by Frank Deford in the Nov. 7, 1983 issue of Sports Illustrated, there were plenty of people at the pond that day, but only Delaney sprang into action.

"I can't swim good, but I've got to save those kids," Delaney told a little boy near the pond. "If I don't come up, get somebody."

One of the boys would make it to the shallow end, but the two other boys, along with Delaney, would drown.

Delaney, a second-round pick out of Northwestern State in 1981, was just 24-years-old and about to enter the third season of a promising NFL career. Delaney rushed for 1,121 yards with three touchdowns and earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie before rushing for 380 yards in eight games during the strike-shortened 1982 season.

More importantly than his football career, Delaney was also married with three young girls of his own at home. Still, Delaney, a true hero, did not hesitate to try to save the lives of those boys.

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