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Joe Delaney

Running Back

Joe Alton Delaney

Inducted 1997

Date of Birth



Henderson, TX


Northwestern State University (1977-1980)


On Oct. 28, 1978, Joe Delaney carried the ball 28 times and gained 299 yards for Northwestern State against Nicholls State. He made 36 yards the first half and 263 the second half. The latter set an NCAA record for a half. He scored four touchdowns, one on a 90-yard run, and led his team to a 28-18 victory. Delaney finished his career at Northwestern State with 3,047 yards rushing, 31 touchdowns, and 188 points. In 1980, he ranked eighth in the nation in all-purpose running. He was named Division I-AA (FCS) All-America. On Nov. 22, he played his last game and the school retired his jersey, No. 44, at halftime. Delaney also starred in track. He ran 100 yards in 9.4 seconds in high school and was on the Northwestern State team which won the NCAA 400-meter relay in 1981. He played two years with the Kansas City Chiefs and in 1981 United Press International named him Rookie of the Year in the American Football Conference. On June 29, 1983, at Monroe, Louisiana, Delaney dived into a pond and tried to save three children who were screaming for help. One child was saved. Two children drowned. Joe Delaney drowned. President Ronald Reagan honored Delaney with the Presidential Citizens Medal, saying, "He made the ultimate sacrifice by placing the lives of three children above regard for his own safety. By the supreme example of courage and compassion, this brilliantly gifted young man left a spiritual legacy for his fellow Americans." He is remembered in these statements :"His humility, his unselfishness, his inspirational abilities were truly remarkable. The heroic manner in which he left our world typifies the way he lived each day." -- Randall Webb, president, Northwestern State University. "Joe's character......lives on through each of us who strive to be like him." --Gary Reasons, Delaney's teammate." "He always said if there was any way he could help someone, he would." -- Carolyn Delaney, his wife.


Height 5'10

Weight 184

Career Highlights

  • 1980 First Team All-America (FCS)
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