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New York man petitions MoDOT to rename portion of I-435 after Chiefs player Joe Delaney

1981 Kansas City Chiefs
Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 19:36:24-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Joe Delany only played two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, the story of his heroic death has lived on in a man who's never even lived in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tens of thousands of Chiefs fans travel along the stretch of I-435 that leads to Arrowhead Stadium.

Now, Adam Jassey has enough signatures to have the Missouri Department of Transportation name it after Delaney.

"For those who don't know who Joe Delaney is - that's a huge part about what this is all about, he has been largely forgotten," Jassey said.

Jassey was born and raised in Long Island, New York but his parents moved to Kansas City in the 1960's so his father could attend medical school.

The Jassey's loved Kansas City so much they wanted to take a piece of it home with them, so they raised their NYC kids as die-hard Kansas City sports fans.

Jassey family

"It's been great it's like a badge of honor," Jassey said. "I passed it on to my son Brett who is now a third generation Kansas City fan in New York, named after George Brett."

Jassey and son at Chiefs game

Jassey's true passion for the Chiefs began in 1981 when Delaney was drafted in the second round, and the team had it's first winning season in years.

1981 Kansas City Chiefs
1981 Kansas City Chiefs

"He ran for over 1,000 yards, he made the Pro Bowl and it was a reason to get excited that he was going to turn the fortune of the Chiefs around," Jassey said.

Instantly, Delaney became then 9-year-old Jassey's favorite player on the Chiefs.

Learning that Delaney had tragically, yet heroically died in 1983 in Louisiana, stayed with him forever and has culminated to making sure his legacy lives on in the city that first introduced him to number 37.

"I was devastated because it was the loss of my favorite player on the Chiefs," Jassey said. "As I got older and I realized the sacrifice that he made to try and save those children from drowning and he didn't even know how to swim and he still went into those waters to try and do that, kids he didn't even know, and the only person in that park to make that decision to do that, it just made me realize what a selfless hero he is and it's the most heroic thing that I've ever seen any person, athlete or otherwise, ever do."

Delaney was married to his wife Carolyn and had three young girls at the time.

"We just grew up childhood friends that ended up in high school dating and getting married right out of high school, I guess Joe was just the love of my life, I would never ever remarry and I know I would never love anyone like I loved Joe," Delany's wife, Carolyn, said.

Joe and Carolyn Delaney

"Just warms my heart for someone to be looking up to Joe like that and thinking about him now and he was their hero back then and still [is] their hero today," Carolyn said. "It's just a great feeling to know that kids at that age - they remember their heroes and things like that, and Joe was one of them, out of all the peoples you pick Joe Delaney."

According to MODOT, the petition to rename the stretch of l-435 from exit 66 to 63C has more than enough signatures to be considered.

Jassey mailed the application with legislative sponsorship from Missouri Rep. Yolanda Young, Wednesday afternoon.

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