August 25, 2013

Rookie of the Year: Joe Delaney, 1981

Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs



Age: 23 (Oct. 30)
College: Northwestern State (Louisiana)
Height: 5’10” Weight: 184

Prelude:
Delaney starred in both track and football in college, and rushed for 3047 yards and 31 touchdowns, including 299 yards on 28 carries in a game against Nicholls State. He was chosen by the Chiefs in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft with the hope that his speed would make him an ideal situational back.

1981 Season Summary
Appeared in 15 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 234 [16]
Most attempts, game - 29 (for 193 yds.) vs. Houston 11/15
Yards – 1121 [10]
Most yards, game – 193 yards (on 29 carries) vs. Houston 11/15
Average gain – 4.8 [5, tied with James Brooks, Tony Dorsett, & Curtis Dickey]
TDs – 3
100-yard rushing games – 5

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 22      
Most receptions, game – 3 (for 104 yds.) vs. Oakland 10/11, (for 31 yds.) vs. Seattle 11/22
Yards – 246
Most yards, game - 104 (on 3 catches) vs. Oakland 10/11
Average gain – 11.2
TDs – 0

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 1
Yards – 11
Average per return – 11.0
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 3
Points – 18

Awards & Honors:
AFC Rookie of the Year: UPI
1st-team All-AFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Chiefs went 9-7 to finish third in the AFC West while leading the AFC in rushing (2633 yards).

Aftermath:
Injuries marred Delaney’s play in 1982, a strike-shortened season, and he appeared in eight of the nine games. He ran the ball for 380 yards on 95 carries (4.0 avg.) and caught just 11 passes. His career was tragically cut short during the offseason when he drowned while attempting to save three children in a pond. Chiefs players wore a patch in his honor during the 1983 season and his name was later added to the team’s Ring of Honor at Arrowhead Stadium.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

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