Joe D keeps it simple, funny while talking Browns, life at Hall of Fame Luncheon Club
CANTON − Joe DeLamielleure drew the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club's largest crowd since the pre-COVID days of late 2019, when Todd Blackledge was guest speaker.
That was fine with DeLamielleure, who is used to crowds.
The former Bills/Browns guard grew up in Detroit as one of 10 children, married someone who has seven siblings, and with that someone, Gerri, has six children and 13 grandchildren.
Gerri was his best friend as far back as grade school and nowadays is his chief advisor.
She instructed him to limit controversial remarks during his talk Monday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He got his point across in a few words on two Browns questions.
Would he have signed DeShaun Watson?
What of Myles Garrett missing Sunday's game at Atlanta in the wake of a car crash and disclosures about speeding tickets?
"I would have suspended him for two games."
DeLamielleure kept the crowd amused with tales of a fascinating life, delivered in true-story punchlines.
Was Mean Joe Greene the toughest guy he ever played against?
"No. My brothers were. They beat the hell out of me."
Joe DeLamielleure starred at Michigan State in college
Why did he choose Michigan State for college football over his first choice, Michigan, where then-new head coach Bo Schembechler recruited him hard?
"My dad said it was too hard to pronounce Schembechler."
His next choice was Notre Dame, which, like Michigan, had a Summit County native as its head coach.
"I'm Catholic. My mother had rosaries all over the halls. I still go to mass every day. But my dad said, 'Son, you can't go to Notre Dame. Ara Parseghian's a phony. He's a Protestant coaching at a Catholic school."
DeLamielleure came along when college freshman were ineligible for varsity football. He enjoyed playing tight end and linebacker for Michigan State's freshman team, which faced Michigan twice and Notre Dame once.
Michigan State head coach Duffy Daugherty told him he would move to right guard.
"I called my parents and said, 'I'm transferring to Michigan,'" DeLamielleure said. "Coach Daugherty called me in and told me, 'You're not transferring to Michigan. You'd have to sit out a year. You don't have any money. You're going to play right guard and go the NFL and play 10 years there.'"
Duffy Daugherty was right: DeLamielleure enjoyed long NFL career after being a Buffalo Bills first-round pick
DeLamielleure stayed in East Lansing. He played guard for the Bills from 1973-79 and for the Browns from 1980-84.
"I'd have played for nothing," DeLamielleure said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Wilson believed me."
Longtime Bills owner Ralph Wilson died in 2014. A few weeks ago in Buffalo, DeLamielleure chatted with Wilson's widow, Mary.
"She asked me, 'You did OK, didn't you? You were a first-round pick. What were your salaries … just curious.'"I said, 22.' She said, 22 … 22 thousand?' I said, 'Yeah, but it got better the next year. It was 24. Then it was 26, then 28, then 30.'"
DeLamielleure held out during the Bills' 1980 preseason, got traded to Cleveland, and became part of Cleveland's "Kardiac Kids." The '80 season ended with the 'Red Right 88" chapter in Cleveland sports lore.
"If we had beaten the Raiders," DeLamielleure said, "we would have gone on to win the Super Bowl. The Raiders beat Philadelphia in the Super Bowl. The Eagles were not a great team."
Of the 442 players picked in the 1973 NFL draft, the four in the Pro Football Hall of Fame are guards DeLamielleure and John Hannah, quarterback Dan Fouts and punter Ray Guy.
NFL 1970s All-Decade Team features Joe DeLamielleure
DeLamielleure and Larry Little are the first-team guards on the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1970s. O.J. Simpson and Walter Payton are the running backs.
DeLamielleure blocked for Simpson for four years in Buffalo.
"It was fun," DeLamielleure said. "He was a good guy, too. I know for a fact there's two personalities. The guy who did what he did. That's not the guy I know. It was somebody else."
Simpson was NFL MVP in DeLamielleure's rookie year of 1973. As a first-year Brown in 1980, DeLamielleure blocked for NFL MVP Brian Sipe, Cleveland's quarterback.
"Brian was skinny, like a little boy," DeLamielleure said. "I couldn't believe how he could throw the ball. Brian could see behind him. He's looking down there and all of sudden the ball goes over there."
DeLamielleure keeps tabs on the Browns. He has worked on teaching the "tip of the spear" blocking system with Scott Peters, who is assistant offensive line coach for the Browns.
"I can't help it if the head coach/offensive coordinator doesn't call certain running plays for Nick Chubb," DeLamielleure said. "That's their problem. They could run the ball every play if they wanted to."
"Joe D" has been one of the Hall's most popular ambassadors. In 2013, he walked from Buffalo to Canton basically because he met an amputee who couldn't afford prosthetic legs. The story, which took a happy turn for his friend, drew a standing ovation.
DeLamielleure's turn at the Luncheon Club podium came in a banquet room at the Hall of Fame's Nash Family Event Center.
Next Monday's session will return to Tozzi's on 12th, where the speaker will be former Mount Union national championship quarterback Jim Ballard, who is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
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