By Jeff Gold
If Great Danes defensive end Eddie Delaney has a
long-sleeved shirt in his locker, University at Albany Head Coach Bob Ford hasn’t seen him put it on.
All long sleeves would do is disguise the truth:
Delaney was born without a left hand.
Might as well let the offensive line know. See if they can stop him. Good luck. They haven’t thus far.
“One hand or two hands, it comes down to whether you can play,” Delaney said.
Since joining the UAlbany football program in 2007, Delaney’s contributions have been steady and significant. As a freshman, he caught the attention of his coaches and teammates with his passion and performance on the scout team. Practices were his games, and his intensity was contagious.
The following year, Delaney became a starter at left defensive end and made the All-Northeast Conference second team. Last season, he made the conference’s first team after recording 41 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss.
“He has great quickness, tremendous strength, and an intense desire to excel,” Ford said. “Those things are more important than playing with two hands.”
Delaney finished his undergraduate work last spring but has one season of eligibility left because he redshirted his freshman season. This year, he will take graduate courses in communications.
He has had to overcome more than just playing with one hand. He’s also a diabetic who wears an insulin pump. At the start of his college career, Delaney would often need to take a break to correct his blood-sugar levels, but he and medical staff have kept the situation under control.
Delaney’s close monitoring of his body has also helped him reshape it. When he arrived at UAlbany, he was just over 210 pounds. He expects to play his senior season at 250, the result of intense weight lifting. Delaney bench-presses 360 pounds by balancing half the weight against his arm.
“Watching him lift is quite a sight,” Ford said. “It is truly unbelievable.”
While he would like to play football as long as he can, mentioning a possible post-college career in Canada or the United Football League as possibilities, Delaney said he also is considering trying to build a career that combines his communications degree and his expert workout-room knowledge into helping design equipment for people with disabilities.
“I’d love to share what I’ve learned, and some of my methods, with people throughout the world,” Delaney said.
They would hear that message from a person who has a history of success and inspiration.