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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Terrace Marshall Jr.’s family connection with Joe Delaney, the Chiefs running back who died a hero

Terrace Marshall Jr.
Terrace Marshall Jr.
Photo: Getty Images

LSU has been churning out wide receiver talent over the last couple seasons, none more notably than last year’s should-have-been Offensive Rookie of the Year and Vikings phenom Justin Jefferson. This year, the NFL, its scouting personnel, and everyone who gets paid to share their opinions are seemingly all in love with Ja’Marr Chase. Going slightly under the radar to the general public, however, is another wide receiver in this draft class — Terrace Marshall Jr.

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I’m not uncovering some hidden gem here — many mock drafts have him going in the first or second round of the NFL Draft, including ESPN’s Todd McShay slotting him in to Baltimore with the 27th overall pick.

I’ve been on the Terrace Marshall Jr. hype train for a while now, but what I didn’t know about this intriguing 6-foot-3 prospect was his family connection.

In the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Joe Delaney, a running back out of Northwestern State. The 5-foot-10 184-pound running back burst onto the scene with a promising rookie season, tallying 1,121 rushing yards, with another 246 receiving yards on 22 catches. He was named the AFC Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He had all the momentum in the world heading into his second season, before injuries and a labor strike hurt his production. He played in all eight games of the strike-shortened 1982 season, logging 380 rushing yards on 95 carries.

Joe Delaney, the great-uncle of LSU standout Terrace Marshall Jr., was drafted in 1981 and played two seasons with the Chiefs.
Joe Delaney, the great-uncle of LSU standout Terrace Marshall Jr., was drafted in 1981 and played two seasons with the Chiefs.
Photo: AP

On June 29, 1983, heading into his third season in the NFL, Delaney was at Chennault Park in Monroe, Louisiana playing a softball game. Someone called out that there were three children in distress in a pond, and although he couldn’t swim, Delaney jumped into the pond to attempt to save them. He saved the life of one boy, and perished along with the other two.

Delaney, who was inducted into the Kansas City Chiefs Ring of Honor in 2004, is the great-uncle of Terrace Marshall Jr.

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LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron was a true freshman at Northwestern State in 1980, a defensive lineman that was teammates with Delaney during his senior season. Delaney compiled 1,153 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in his final college season. Thirty-eight years after that season, Orgeron had his former teammate’s great-nephew join him in Baton Rouge. According to Orgeron, Marshall reminds him of Delaney.

“When I’m looking in a meeting and I turn to the right and I see Terrace’s face, it reminds me,” Orgeron told the media in October of 2020. “Terrace is almost a replica of Joe D, and that is about one of the biggest compliments I can ever give anybody.”

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To his family, the comparisons to Delaney run deep. Delaney’s sister, Alma Delaney Warner, has said that the physical similarities are striking, especially in the eyes and the shape of the smile.

“Joe, for me, is reincarnated, because a lot of actions I see from Terrace, even as a little kid, I can go back in my mind and see that same vision of Joe,” Warner said.

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As Marshall, who is often overlooked in the recent lineage of LSU wide receivers, looks towards the draft in a little over three weeks, his skillset will be in high demand. Often projected in the late-first or early-second round of the NFL Draft, there’s one team that could benefit from a tall, lengthy wide receiver with contested catch ability and easy long speed — the same team his great-uncle Joe Delaney played for — the Kansas City Chiefs.