Every year we hear about a tragic death in sports. Usually it results from a poor decision or illegal activity from the individual. However on June 29th 1983, Joe Delaney died trying to save three children from drowning at the age of 24.
Delaney was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1981 in the second round of the NFL draft. He had a terrific rookie season rushing for over 1,100 yards. He was set to be the future of the franchise. Delaney propelled the Chiefs to their first winning season since 1973. Former Houston Oilers defensive end Elvin Bethea praised Delaney saying his skills ranked among the greatest running backs ever.
But Delaney should be remembered most for what he did off the field.
It has been well documented that Delaney did not know how to swim. Three boys were drowning in an amusement park pond while being sucked down from the water hole. The pond wasn’t meant for swimming, just a scenic view. Delaney was there and quickly reacted by jumping in. One of the children managed to get out safely while the other two died. Delaney drowned and his body was later found by officials. A man who couldn’t even swim, jumped into a pond to save three kids he didn’t even know.
The Chiefs currently have 10 retired jersey numbers. This includes Stone Johnson who never even played a regular season game. He broke his neck in a preseason game and died 10 days later. If Johnson’s number 33 has been “admirably” retired, than it’s time to retire number 37.
“I can’t swim, but I’ve got to save those kids”
-The last words ever spoken by Joe Delaney.
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