In the 1970s, Joe DeLamielleure and his Buffalo Bills offensive line mates were dubbed the “Electric Company,” because they “turned the Juice loose.” The “Juice” of course was Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson. An All-America and three-time All-Big Ten performer at Michigan State, “Joe D” as he was known, was selected in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.
At first, when he failed his physical, it seemed he would never play pro football. Fortunately, further tests showed his irregular heartbeat was not serious, and Joe went on to win All-Rookie honors. It was the beginning of a string of career honors that few guards had or have since exceeded.
He went on to become the most honored lineman of the Bills respected front wall. Eight times during his career he was selected first- or second-team All-Pro; seven times he was named first- or second-team All-AFC, and six times he was named to the Pro Bowl. Since 1970, only two Hall of Fame guards, John Hannah with 10 and Gene Upshaw with seven, were named All-Pro more often. In 1975, the NFL Players Association named him Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Extremely durable and dependable, Joe played in 185 consecutive games during his 13 playing seasons with the Bills and the Cleveland Browns. A starter from the first game of his rookie season, DeLamielleure played and started in every game for eight seasons in Buffalo before being traded to Cleveland in 1980. During five years in Cleveland he played in every game and had only three non-starts.
Primarily due to the success of the Bills running attack led by Simpson, DeLamielleure was best known for his run blocking. Behind the swift pulling guard, O.J. became the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. But Joe was more than just a run blocker, he was also an effective pass blocker and rarely allowed his opponent to disrupt Buffalo’s or Cleveland’s pass plays. DeLamielleure, who was named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team, finished his career in 1985 with a final season back where it had begun, in Buffalo.