On June 29, 1983, Kansas City Chiefs running Joe Delaney heroically passed away while trying to save two three young children from drowning. Delaney said he wasn’t a good swimmer, but he knew he had to act if he was to save those children. He heroically managed to save one of the children, but the other two passed away with Dulaney. With the Kansas City Chiefs dealing with some player character issues, there’s never been a better time to look back at one of the true heroes and good guys in NFL history.
Joe Delaney, In Memoriam
By all accounts, Delaney was a generous, loving, and selfless man. Back on June 29th, Delaney was at Critter’s Creek Amusement Park when he noticed three children screaming for help. Delaney, who wasn’t the best swimmer, immediately went out into the water and tried to rescue the boys. Despite not knowing how to swim, Delaney brought one child back to shore without harm. He got a second back to land, but the child tragically was in critical condition and didn’t survive.
Delaney’s sacrifice did not go unnoticed, as 3,000 people came to his Memorial Service on July 4th. Then-president Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Citizens Medal on July 15th, saying that “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.”
Delaney’s legacy still lives on in Arrowhead, as nobody has worn 37 since Delaney’s tragic death. Additionally, Kansas City posthumously inducted Delaney into the Chiefs’ ring of honor in 2004. To honor his memory, a group of Chiefs’ fans formed the “37Forever Foundation”. This organization teamed with the American Red Cross to give swimming lessons to underprivileged children.
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