Joe DeLamielleure

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Buffalo Bills Offensive Lineman

When the Buffalo Bills drafted three-time All-Big Ten selection and Sporting News All-American Joe DeLamielleure of Michigan State in 1973, an enthusiastic coach Lou Saban proclaimed him the “next Billy Shaw.” Saban’s heady praise and DeLamielleure’s ample promise was rendered empty two months later by a shocking medical determination that due to a heart malfunction, the first-round draft pick would never be physically capable of playing pro-football Undaunted, DeLamielleure traveled to the renowned Cleveland Clinic at the urging of friend Ilio DiPaolo. Joe underwent corrective procedures which enabled him to embark on a distinguished football career during which he never missed a game. Those procedures apparently enlarged Joe’s heart, for few Bills have ever displayed greater determination on the football field.

Joe overcame his initial dire prognosis to star in the NFL for many seasons. As a rookie he made an immediate contribution to the Bills, helping to pave the way for O.J. Simpson as he shattered the National Football League single-game rushing yardage record on opening day against the New England Patriots. DeLamielleure, Reggie McKenzie and the rest of the famed “Electric Company” dominated the line of scrimmage in 1973 for a Bills team which featured not only the NFL’s first 2,000 yard rusher (Simpson), but also set a league team standard with over 3,000 yards rushing.

Joe opened holes for a host of other notable Bills backs in an illustrious career. Primarily a run-blocker, DeLamielleure also prided himself on the pass blocking skills which fueled a potent passing attack in the mid-1970s. The nation’s sportswriters, and the NFL’s coaches, came to recognize Joe’s greatness as DeLamielleure achieved All-Pro status from 1975 through 1980, and was chosen for the AFC Pro-Bowl squad in the same seasons. In 1980, Joe was selected as right guard on the pro football writers’ NFL Team of the Decade for the 1970s. The Buffalo Athletic Club also honored DeLameilleure as the area’s professional Athlete of the Year in 1976.

Joe left the Bills in 1980 to play four seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Just as he had assisted Simpson in attaining NFL Most Valuable Player honors in 1973, Joe was an indispensable factor in the attainment of MVP status for Browns’ quarterback Brian Sipe in 1980. DeLamielleure returned in 1985 to complete his career as a Bill.

Joe currently imparts his wisdom and skill to collegians as the newly-appointed offensive line coach at Duke University. No matter where his football travels have taken him, however, Joe “D” has always left a special place in his heart for Buffalo and its fans. In 1996, we returned the sentiment.