Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29, 1983: Joe Delaney of The Kansas City Chiefs Drowns While Trying To Save 3 Children

On June 29, 1983, tragedy struck the Kansas City Chiefs organization as they learned that their running back Joe Delaney had drowned while trying to save three children from drowning in a pond in his home state of Louisiana, only one of the children survived and Delaney gave his life trying to save them all. The 24 year old was a second round draft pick in 1981, he showed great promise in his rookie season as he ran for 1,121 yards and propelled the Chiefs to their first winning season since 1973. Delaney broke four franchise records in his rookie campaign while he was on his way to winning the AFC Rookie of the Year award, the records have since been surpassed but it gives you an idea of how much potential he had. His second year in the league was hampered by a strike and an eye injury which led to just 380 yards rushing in 8 games for the running back, despite the fact that his second year was not the best, everyone in the Chiefs organization believed him to be the real deal and that he would bounce back with a solid season in 1983, it just wasn't to be. Delaney had a history of trying to help others and when he saw the kids in the lake that day he knew he couldn't swim very well, but refused to stand to the side when he saw them in trouble, it's admirable that a man would be so unselfish to not even think of his own life and just do whatever he could to save others. In a perfect world this would have ended with three children saved by a heroic running back, unfortunately it is not a perfect world but that doesn't change the fact that what he was trying to do was nothing short of heroic. The Chiefs honored Delaney during the '83 season by wearing a circular patch bearing  a gold eagle and the number 37 on the upper left chest of their uniforms, his number is unofficially retired by the team and it is in the ring of honor at Arrowhead, no Chiefs player has worn it since. Less than a month after Delaney's death The President of the United States, Ronald Reagan honored the fallen player by awarding him the Presidential Citizens Award which was presented to his family by the Vice President George H. W. Bush, Reagan would say "He made the ultimate sacrifice by placing the lives of three children above regard for his own safety. By supreme example of courage and compassion, this brilliantly gifted young man left a spiritual legacy for his fellow Americans."

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