Photo: Broughton's Austin Bell with Joe DeLamielleure
Michigan State's Joe DeLamielleure is identified by more than just green and white these days.
Green and white, of course, represent his time as a Spartans All-American offensive lineman his senior year in 1972, which was the final season for College Football Hall of Fame head coach Duffy Daugherty.
But Joe D's primary color was gold on Thursday at Raleigh's historic Broughton High. He wore the distinctive gold jacket of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to represent the U.S. Army/Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence.
Joe D, a Buffalo Bills first-round draft pick in 1973, was first-team All-Pro in 13 NFL seasons and voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003. He presented the award to Broughton’s Austin Bell, a junior football and lacrosse star.
Bell was selected among 20 Award of Excellence finalists invited to the Canton, Ohio, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend in August that features induction ceremonies for a class that includes the late Junior Seau of the San Diego Chargers.
DeLamielleure spoke of his life path to the Hall of Fame, saying he was the first one in his family to attend college when he was recruited by Daugherty out of Center Line (Mich.) St. Clement.
“The Hall of Fame is about teamwork, hard work and leadership,” DeLamielleure said. “Hard is doing the best you can do every day. I’m one of 10 kids in my family and no one went to college except for me. I grew up in a bar in Detroit. My dad always pounded in me to do the best you can every day, even if it’s scrubbing the corner of the bar.
“We did the best we could do and all of the sudden I was 18 and I had a scholarship to go to Michigan State. When I got to college I decided, ‘I’m not going to fail.’ I did what I had to do not just over a four-year period but every minute of every day.
“It takes leadership to get to the Hall of Fame, but leadership is not just what you say, it’s what you do. You can tell kids to do this or do that, but they’re watching you."
Joe D then turned to Bell and said: "Now they’re really going to be watching you because you got this award. You’re going to find out what a Hall of Famer is when you come to Canton.”
There is an obvious generation gap between a high school junior and a 1973 NFL draft pick, but Bell had some inside help learning about DeLamielleure before the award ceremony. Bell’s neighbor, Jim Cheyunski, whose lawn he cuts for his landscaping service, was DeLamielleure’s teammate in Buffalo.
“I first had to first learn how to pronounce his last name,” said Bell, rattling off de-LAHM-a-leer. “He helped me and he spoke highly of him. It’s an honor to be recognized by him. My parents and friends are proud of me and they’re looking up to me. This is a great experience.”
--- Tom Shanahan has featured Army, Navy and Air Force athletes for nearly 30 years in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Rivals.com and the Raleigh News and Observer. He attended his first Army-Navy Game after John Feinstein wrote in his book on the rivalry, “A Civil War,” everyone should attend the Army-Navy Game at least once.