By Kevin Shannahan
From the battle with Stephen F. Austin for “Chief Caddo” to the “Wreck Tech” games in the 1960’s and ’70’s, Northwestern State University Athletics has been a party to some fierce and longstanding rivalries. Arguably, none of them match the longetivity and intensity of the purple Demon vs. white Demon civil war that is the Delaney Bowl, NSU’s annual battle between the offensive and defensive squads. The purple offensive squad emerged victorious in the March 30 annual Delaney Bowl, putting up 61 points to edge out the white team’s 32 points before a crowd of family, friends and Demon fans as well as the ubiquitous Dr. Chris Maggio. Both sides battled hard for victory and bragging rights. The quality of play was a promising portent of things to come.
Halftime featured a long standing NSU tradition as each player who lettered for the first time last fall being presented his letter jacket by a former NSU letterman and welcomed into the Demon family. Second year NSU Head coach Brad Laird also presented Legendary Links, an award given to individuals who have made an impact on NSU’s athletic program to Sheriff Victor Jones and several longtime Demon supporters. After the contest, the coaches named Gavin Landry as the Offensive Player of the Game and Ian Edwards as the Defensive Player of the Game.
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 courage and character on and 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 swim, 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.