Last year at this time, we considered plenty of former NFL players for the award that we’ll give each year to the running back we regard as the best in the game.Walter Payton was the first guy that came to mind, but he already has a pretty big award named after him.  Barry Sanders got serious consideration, too.  As did Jim Brown and Gale Sayers and Chuck Foreman and John Riggins and O.J. Simpson (we’re just making sure you’re paying attention).
The more we thought about this one, the easier this one got.
The award is named for Chiefs running back Joe Delaney.
Delaney rushed for only 1,501 yards in two NFL seasons — 1,121 of which came in a rookie campaign that resulted in a Pro Bowl berth.  In June 1983, Delaney tried to rescue three boys who were drowning in a hole full of rain water at a construction site.  He saved one of them.  The other two boys died.
And so did Delaney.
Ricky Reilly, now at ESPN and formerly with Sports Illustrated, penned this item about Delaney in 2003.
Joe Delaney left behind a young wife and three daughters.  His story deserves to be known, and his selfless courage needs to be remembered.
We’ll do our part here, by honoring a running back every season in Delaney’s name.
This year’s recipient was a no brainer.
Despite having no passing game to pull the strong safety away from the line of scrimmage, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a stellar season in his second NFL campaign.
He rushed for a league-leading 1,760 yards and 363 carries, creating an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
And, more importantly, Peterson has achieved a high degree of performance without causing trouble, on or off the field.
The only knock on Peterson is that he loses the grip on the ball more often than he should.  But 31 other franchises would love to have him, and if the Vikings can ever find a quarterback who’ll keep the defenses honest, Peterson could shatter the single-season rushing record.
Before Thanksgiving.

4 responses to “PFT HEROES 2008: THE JOE DELANEY AWARD

  1. The man was a hero,
    him and Pat Tillman (arizona cardinals)
    do not recieve the recognition they deserve
    both are true american heroes
    and not other football players can compare themselves to those two,
    i dont care what thier numbers were,
    could be Marino, Montana, Brown, Rice, Sanders, Lott, Bradshaw, Brady, Manning, Namath, Lambert, Ham, Swann, Fouts, Lane, Lombardi, Butkis, Winslow, Newsome,Peyton, Sayers, Harris, Moss, Green, i dont care. No one and i mean no one can match what those two men did.
    The greatest NFL’ers of all time, and im sure all those listed and that list does go on and on, would agree.

  2. A deserving recipient. Would have loved to have seen DeAngelo Williams as a nominee.

  3. Thanks for honoring a true hero like Joe Delaney by naming your RB award after him. He was a shining star on the field and a selfless individual off of it. It saddened me to see his untimely demise, but knowing that he did it to save a life (and attempting to save two others) shows the true courage of the man (many don’t also realize that Delaney didn’t know how to swim when he dove in to save those kids).

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