HOF Mail Bag - Joe DeLamielleure

Hall of Famers Published on : 10/7/2005
HOF Mail BagHello Joe !!! Will you please share one or two of your favorite moments when the Bills faced the Dolphins? - Thank you very much, Joe. - Boomer VonCannon, Charlotte, NC

I didn’t have very many good moments because we never beat them when I was there. But one of the (times) we had played the Dolphins in Buffalo in the '70s. I think a total of 20 passes were thrown total between both teams and both teams just rushed the ball and the game got over with in about 2 1/2 hours. Probably a record. But, it was one of the most fun games to play in because it was exciting and as the game was going on you realized that no passes were being thrown. (Bob) Griese threw to nobody and (Joe) Ferguson didn't throw to anybody it was just (Larry) Csonka, (Jim) Kiick and (Mercury) Morris; and (Jim) Braxton and (O.J.) Simpson running all over everyone. That was an exciting time.

Another time I remember we went down there and somebody broke into our locker room through the air ducts and took our helmets and we had to wear Dolphin helmets they just plastered some Bills logos on them. None of the helmets fit any of us.

We lost a tough one. Mercury Morris lost the ball, Lou Saban got a huge penalty. Jerry Bergman was the ref and we thought it was a bad call.  If we had recovered that ball, then we would have won the game. That was a memorable moment because I have never seen anybody get after a referee like Lou got after Jerry Bergman that day.

O.J. Simpson and Joe DAs a rookie, earning a starting spot on an NFL team is tough enough let alone on the offensive line. What do you attribute your “instant” success to and as that historic season unfolded, did you and the rest of the line feel pressured to perform well so that
O. J. could get the record? Thank you.
- C. A. Rininger, Schaller, Iowa

Actually, what enabled me to do that was great high school and college coaching. I had tremendous line coaches in high school and college. At Michigan State and St. Clement the high school I was at. As far as the pressure was concerned, I never felt pressure. I always said this when I played football, pressure is people with real jobs, like factory workers, fireman, policeman. My dad had a bar, 10 kids no money, that’s pressure. Playing football was never pressure to me, I enjoyed every minute of it. The closer O.J. got to the record the more I enjoyed the game.

Hey Joe, I'm sure you've had your name mispronounced more than once. What's your favorite?  (Editor’s Note: For the record, the last syllable in Joe DeLamielleure's name is pronounced "LEAR" not "LURE." Thus, his name is pronounced: Duh-lahm-uh-LEAR.)

My favorite? Bob DeLamielleure.

You played at a position where, even as a future Hall of Famer, people typically only hear your name during a game if there is a holding penalty called on you. Have you had to adjust now that everyone who calls themselves a football fan knows you, since your induction to the Hall of Fame? – Scott, Denver, CO

Because my name is so long, instead of being, my wife’s name is Smith, if I would have taken Joe Smith I doubt if very many people would have heard of me. It’s an unusual long name. I think during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Bob Kuechenberg and myself probably got more recognition for how long our names were and how odd they were than any two lineman who maybe have played during that time. Actually the long name helped me get a lot of notoriety.

Joe DJoe, You had a reputation as a terrific offensive lineman and enjoyed a lot of success. Of all of the opposing defensive tackles you knocked heads with, who gave you the toughest time? - Fran Haefner, Lancaster PA

Well, three guys come to mind, Joe GreeneMerlin Olsen  and Mike Barnes. Mike Barnes played for Baltimore, obviously everybody knows who Joe Greene and Merlin Olsen are. But those guys were particularly hard to block, basically not because they were so strong or anything it was just that they hustled all the time. They went all out. It was fun to play against them but it was a challenge.

Congratulations on your Hall of Fame induction and a brilliant career. My question to you sir is this. With all of the big offensive linemen in the NFL today where teams average 300-plus pounds across the line how is it that a team cannot gain one or two yards or even inches for a first down? Are teams trying to out think themselves at times? Thank you. – Roger Henderson, Jr., Pasadena, CA

I think one of the big reasons is that a lot of the line coaches in the league never played the position. I was fortunate enough to play under Jim Ringo for eight of my 13 years and believe me every guy he has coached - John HannahJackie Slater, and Ron Yary , all  Hall of Famers will tell you that the guys who played the game, they understand the game and they know what it takes. I think right now there are very few offensive line coaches that even played in the National Football League.

And also, I think the players are way too big. If you really look at the great offensive lineman who are in the league like Will Shields, Jordan Gross - the kid from the Panthers - these are going to be the players of the future -- the thinner guys. Because what happens is the tackles weigh about 340 and the defensive ends are really just tall guys who put there hand down on the ground, they’re outside linebackers, and that’s why they can’t block them. The fat guys are running backwards and the skinny guys are running forward. Who’s going to win that race? It’s really that simple. When we came off the ball we were low and came off the ball hard.  These guys are so big and so heavy they can't even get down in a hitting position anymore.