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Kansas City Chiefs RB Joe Delaney Died 26 Years Ago Today

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Joe Delaney: 1958-1983

Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney died 26 years ago.  A second round pick by the Chiefs in 1981, Delaney played only two seasons in Kansas City before his life came to a tragic end.

Three boys were swimming in a pond in Monroe, LA at about two in the afternoon.  As they waded out farther away from the shore, they would soon find that the bottom dropped off.  Screaming and thrashing in the water, only one man in a crowd of people stepped forward.

Joe Delaney. 

"Can you swim?" a little boy asked Joe.

"I can't swim good but I've got to save those kids.  If I don't come up, get somebody."  Unfortunate for the rest of the world and the Kansas City Chiefs, those were the last words of Joe Delaney as he died while trying to save the kids.

One of the boys was able to find his way to the shore.  The two others and Delaney did not.

This article by Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated from November 7th, 1983, is a must-read on Joe.

On this day, we tip our hats to a man we proudly call a member of the Kansas City Chiefs family.  Delaney's inspiring act reminds us of the common bond that connects all human beings, which is perhaps his greatest legacy.

More on Joe:

  • 1981 AFC Rookie of the Year
  • Rushed for 1,121 yards in his rookie season
  • 1982 Pro Bowl selection
  • All-American selection in 1979 and 1980
  • Elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997
  • His name is on the Ring of Honor at Arrowhead Stadium

For those of you wondering why Joe's #37 isn't one of the Chiefs' officially retired numbers, it's because Lamar Hunt set the standard of retiring a Chiefs player number only when they have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

RIP, Joe.