Joe Delaney's Legacy Lives On 37 Years Later
Tucker D. Franklin
Thirty-seven years ago, former Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney lost his life after jumping into a pond attempting to save three children at Chennault Park in Monroe, Louisiana.
Delaney, who wore No. 37 for the Chiefs, was honored with a monument on June 27 commemorating his selfless act in the location the events took place.
Marvin Dearman, the rescue diver for the Monroe Police Department who responded to the scene, said to KNOE News that Delaney knew what he had to do.
“He jumped in that pond to save some children who were drowning, and he knew he couldn’t swim, but that didn’t matter to him,” Dearman said. “All he thought about was he was going to try to save those kids.”
After the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, 37 years after Delaney’s death, Dearman knew it was time to honor the late hero.
With many others, Dearman decided to make sure there was a monument to not only remember Delaney’s actions that day but to remember the man that he was.
Before the ceremony, Delaney’s widow, Carolyn, and other family members hadn’t been to the site of his passing. But now, they’ll have a reason to return.
“He died a hero, and there’s a story about him that will live on forever,” Dearman said.
Delaney was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan in the weeks following his death.
Former teammates and coaches heralded Delaney’s athletic achievements as well. He rushed for 1,121 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie campaign in 1981. Delaney appeared in 23 games for the Chiefs.
Former Chiefs Head Coach Marv Levy said Delaney would have been a Hall of Famer and Northwestern State teammate Barry Rubin said he was “the closest thing to Walter Payton.”
Joe Delaney was 24.