By John D'Onofrio
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
While “concussions” remain a high profile topic in the National Football League today, Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame offensive lineman Joe DeLamielleure said they were relatively unheard of when he played professional football.
DeLamielleure, whose Hall of Fame NFL career from 1973-85 will best be remembered as being part of the “Electric Company” offense that helped O.J. Simpson set a then league single-season rushing record of 2003 yards, made a brief appearance at the Bewley Building downtown on Thursday, signing autographs as part of a fundraiser for the Niagara County Deputy Sheriff’s Association
Joe D said the word “concussion” was never even used while he grew up playing football in Detroit, where he went on to become an All-American at Michigan State before being drafted by the Bills in 1973.
“When we played, they didn’t call it a concussion. They said, ‘You got dinged,’ “ DeLamielleure said. “And when you felt a little better, you went back in the game.”
DeLamiellure said for these and other reasons, he’s been a vigorous proponent of more research into head injuries and for better pensions for retired players and he expressed dissatisfaction with the NFL’s Player’s Union on these matters.
Joe D said he makes just $1,104 a month from the players’ retirement fund. “That’s pretty bad,” he said.
DeLamiellure played in 185 consecutive games during his 13 playing seasons with the Bills and 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.
Fans lined up on Marker Street for a chance to get Joe D’s autograph. Proceeds from the $10 admission benefits Niagara Hospice.
“It’s good to see a Bills Hall of Famer in Lockport and it’s all for a good cause,” said “Ranger” Rick Lemeaux of Lockport.
Sean Chambers of Lockport added, “Joe D was a little before my time, but I’ve heard so many good things about him, I wanted to get his autograph. He had toughness.”
Next up in the NCDSA Corrections and Dispatchers will present an autograph night with former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on June 2 at the Bewley Building.
Admission is $20. Former Bills head coach Marv Levy is scheduled in July.