By: Kevin Shannahan
Northwestern State University’s Turpin Stadium was the scene of a hard fought family feud as the NSU football team’s orange squad under guest coach Tony Joe Maranto squared off against the purple squad under guest coach and fellow former Demon, John Evans, in Saturday’s 27th Annual Delaney Bowl. John Evans’ purple squad edged out Tony Maranto’s 21-17 before a crowd of family, friends and Demon fans as well as the unbiquitous Dr. James Henderson. Both sides battled hard for victory and bragging rights which included having the losing team carry the winning team’s cafeteria trays for a week.
Halftime featured several long standing NSU traditions as each player who lettered for the first time last fall was presented his letter jacket by a former NSU letterman and welcomed into the Demon family. NSU Head coach Jay Thomas also presented Legendary Links, an award given to individuals who have made an impact on NSU’s football program to several individuals, most notably Joe Delaney’s grandson Nick. Joe’s wife, Carolyn, and daughter Crystal also received presentations.
The man the game is named in honor of is Joe Delaney, a former Northwestern State University athlete. He ran track and field as well as playing football, setting school records in both sports. After graduation, Joe went on to play for two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs where he was named “Rookie of the Year” by United Press International.
It wasn’t his feats on the gridiron that earned him an honored place in Northwestern State University’s history however, but rather his character off the field. On June 29th, 1983 Joe went with some friends to a park in Monroe, Louisiana. While there, he saw a group of three children who had ventured too far out in the water and were calling for help. Despite not being able to swin, Joe Delaney went in anyway to try to rescue the children. One child survived, but tragically the other two and the man who gave his life to try to rescue them did not. In 1983 President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Joe Delaney the Presidential Citizen’s Medal. President Reagan’s remarks at the ceremony sum up this remarkable man’s legacy well.
“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…”
Today’s NSU Demons have some big shoes to fill.