Joe DeLamielleure – Guard
Joe DeLamielleure has often joked that he's made "the Lake Erie tour" during his life. And he's right. In fact, if there were such a thing, then he would be All-Lake Erie for sure.
DeLamielleure grew up just outside of Detroit in Center Line, Mich. He went to college not far away at Michigan State, then went all the way across Lake Erie to Buffalo in 1973 to begin his career with the Bills, who took him in the first round of the NFL Draft with the 26th overall pick. Following seven seasons there, the offensive guard found himself in the middle of the Lake Erie shoreline, in Cleveland, after a trade to the Browns.
He spent five years there, then returned to Buffalo for a season in 1985 to finish out his 13-year career. As a rookie in 1973, DeLamielleure was part of history, being part of the Bills "Electric Company" offensive line that paved the way for Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson to become the first rusher in NFL history to go over the 2,000-yard mark. DeLamielleure was so good, in fact, that he was named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1970s, during which he was selected All-NFL five times and made five trips to the Pro Bowl. With Tom DeLeone, Cody Risien, Robert Jackson, Doug Dieken and Henry Sheppard, the Browns already had a good offensive line in 1980. But head coach Sam Rutigliano went out and got DeLamielleure because he knew he would make the group even better – and deeper – and realized that the offense overall was the key to the team's success. Rutigliano was right. With DeLamielleure being part of a three-man rotation at guard with Jackson and Sheppard, the offense carried the 1980 team, nicknamed the Kardiac Kids for all of its last-second finishes, to the franchise's first AFC Central championship in nine years and its first playoff berth overall in eight seasons. The leader of that club was quarterback Brian Sipe, who won the NFL MVP award after passing for a team-record 4,132 yards. As such, DeLamielleure became the first player in NFL history to block for a 2,000-yard rusher and a 4,000-yard passer. For his part in that, he was named All-NFL and a Pro Bowler that season for the sixth – and final – time in his career. DeLeone and Dieken also made the Pro Bowl that year, marking the first time in 14 seasons that three Browns offensive linemen had been so honored. With DeLamielleure still at right guard, the Browns made the playoffs again in 1982 and nearly got there the following year. He not only performed well for the Browns, but was an iron man, too, playing in all 65 games during his time with them (the 1982 season was shortened to nine games because of a players strike).
– Steve King