It’s been a bad week for the NFL, which possibly is experiencing its first serial killer. But as we continue to process the notion that Aaron Hernandez may have ended three lives, let’s remember a man who gave his, in an effort to save three lives.
Thirty years ago today, Chiefs running back Joe Delaney noticed that a trio of young boys had waded into a man-made water hole. It contained an unknown deep end, and they quickly were in trouble.
As Frank Deford, then of Sports Illustrated, later explained it, “There were all sorts of people around, but only Joe dashed to the pond. There was a little boy there. ‘Can you swim?’ he asked Joe.
“‘I can’t swim good,’ Joe said, ‘but I’ve got to save those kids. If I don’t come up, get somebody.’ And he rushed into the water.”
Delaney saved one of the boys. Two drowned. So did Delaney.
Joe Delaney, who had played only two NFL seasons, was 24. He left behind a wife and three young girls.
As a rookie in 1981, Delaney rushed for 1,121 yards. But he willingly sacrificed a bright future to help save three young strangers.
Today, Delaney’s tragic yet inspiring story deserves to be remembered. Tomorrow and beyond, it should never be forgotten.