Joe Delaney gets a monument near the pond where he died a hero

Getty Images

Monday marks the anniversary of one of American sports’ most overlooked heroes. This weekend, family and friends unveiled a memorial to Joe Delaney near the spot where he drowned.

For several years, we’ve commemorated Delaney’s passing on the anniversary of his death. Every year, people learn for the first time the story of a young man with his NFL career and entire life before him while trying to save three drowning children. This years, the 37th anniversary of the man who wore No. 37 arrives.

Via KNOE-TV, a monument to Delaney now sits at Chennault Park in Monroe, Louisiana, close to the pond where Delaney drowned.

“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. All he thought about was he was going to try to save those kids,” said Marvin Dearman, a rescue diver for the Monroe Police Department at the time the tragedy happened.

Delaney saved one of the children. Two of them drowned along with Delaney.

“Joe was a person that would give his shirt off his back to you,” his widow, Carolyn, said. “He was a kindhearted person. He was also helping out people, and he didn’t worry about Joe himself. He just worried about making the people around him happy.”

Before Saturday’s event, Carolyn Delaney and Joe’s surviving family members had not visited the site of his passing. The monument gives them reason to repeatedly return.

“We can come back and we have a place that I can bring the kids, the grands and the great grands to see the monument honoring Joe,” she said.

The monument should be a reminder for anyone else who sees it over the next 37 years.

“He died a hero, and there’s a story about him that will live on forever,” Dearman said.

It’s a story that we’ll tell every June 29 for as long as the lights are on. And it’s a story that, every year, plenty of people will be hearing for the first time.

38 responses to “Joe Delaney gets a monument near the pond where he died a hero

  1. Joe was a great player — and an even better person. He saved a life by sacrificing his own. Joe we salute you.

  2. Tragic what happened. Great loss to football, even greater loss to the human race. Joe Delaney, Hero personified.

  3. 36 years ago and it’s still shocking. Jumping in to save kids, and you can’t swim. Time heals a lot of things, but the sadness of this tragedy hasn’t gone away.

  4. Should keep track of the lucky young person he saved. Hopefully knowing this unselfish act of heroism and love inspires this person throughout their life.

  5. People throw around the phrase ‘sacrificed everything’ a lot. Joe truly was a hero who sacrificed everything.

  6. This guy jumped in a pond knowing he couldn’t swim to try and save three lives. And now we can’t even get people to wear a mask to save countless lives.

  7. I’ve thought about this terrible tragedy many times over the years. What an selfless courageous act.

  8. I still remember hearing about this. He was courageous and selfless to do what he did. I’m glad they do this story every year because people need to know the kind of man he was. By the looks of the voting it seems as if there is finally something everyone can agree on–Joe was a bona fide hero.

  9. I wear a mask to work every day but I’m not foolish enough to think I’m saving anyone’s life. Wearing masks is a precautionary measure.

    Not even close to the same thing.

  10. There is a awful lot of good out there but we keep getting smashed in the head with all of the bad

  11. This is the kind of statue that should be erected in the South. Not statues of treasonous generals and slave owners. Always remember and celebrate the life of Joe Delaney. #ChiefsNation

  12. Thank you, Florio and all at PFT for keeping this great man’s name and story alive. Living in the UK and now in Ireland, we would not necessarily have known his story were it not for you. Continue to RIP Joe. I would have loved to have seen you play.

  13. I’m a fan of a bitter rival of the the Chiefs but I always admired Delaney’s heroism in trying to save those 3 kids from drowning despite the fact that Joe himself couldn’t swim. I’m not sure what type of career Delaney would’ve had if he had lived but the type of sacrifice he made is very rare and needs to be continually commemorated.

  14. fanfrommontreal says:
    June 28, 2020 at 4:03 pm
    Peace to his soul.
    Could someone explain to me all the thumbs down?


    Because the Laws of Nature require that a small percentage of ALL PEOPLE, regardless of race, profession, religion or lack of, flat out suck.

  15. a courageous act and just think, police do such things everyday – to be cursed and despised.

  16. It is so appropriate to honor this act of heroism every year. Such selfless acts need to be acknowledged.

    And, I agree that nearly all police officers also put themselves at risk everyday to protect all citizens and now are being disgracefully slandered instead of appreciated.

  17. That is the true definition of a hero. He knew that he would drown but he tried to save the children regardless.

  18. I am blown away that anyone would give a thumbs down to posts honoring a man that gave his live to save children.

    What is wrong with some people?

  19. “Peace to his soul.
    Could someone explain to me all the thumbs down?”


  20. you’d think some other people could have pitched in and saved all 4 of them.
    Delaney’s act was crazy selfless, but it’s too bad fate couldn’t have thrown all of them a life preserver.

  21. truthhurts says:
    June 28, 2020 at 1:03 pm
    Should keep track of the lucky young person he saved. Hopefully knowing this unselfish act of heroism and love inspires this person throughout their life.

    The kid he saved is in prison. This makes this even more sad. Hero sacrificed himself for a criminal that did nothing but hurt people in return

  22. Kids want to know who a hero in this game is, this is the man that you show him and tell them about.

  23. Joe Delaney is from the same small town Dak Prescott is from…..Haughton, Louisiana

  24. I appreciate reading this article every year…Always think about what it must have like to know you were likely to die just to save a stranger…

  25. Thank you Mike for helping keep Joe’s life meaningful all these years.

    Our country needs to read of his lesson.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.