Former Super Bowl-Winning Steelers Running Back Dies at 68

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back/kick returner Jack Deloplaine has died at age 68, according to multiple reports, including from WBOY in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Delopaine, a native of Pottstown, Pennsylvania was a member of the Steelers teams that won the Super Bowl in 1979 and 1980.

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Deloplaine Was a Steelers 6th-Round Pick in 1976

Jack Deloplaine was the second of Pittsburgh’s two sixth-round picks in the 1976 draft, part of a class that produced tight end Bennie Cunningham, offensive lineman Ray Pinney, quarterback Mike Kruczek, wide receiver Theo Bell and defensive tackle Gary Dunn. He starred at Salem College in West Virginia (now Salem University) and became the first player to be drafted into the league from that school.

According to salemtigers.com, Deloplaine received numerous athletic honors during his college career. For example, in 1975 he was named West Virginia Amateur Athlete of the Year and was the Tigers’ offensive MVP. Deloplaine was also named an AP College Division All-American and was a four-time All-WVIAC selection. He was selected to the Salem University Hall of Fame in 1998.

Deloplaine appeared in 33 games for the Steelers over the course of four seasons (1976-79) and rushed the ball 30 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. As a rookie he made his mark on special teams, returning 17 kickoffs for 385 yards and 17 punts for a total of 150 yards.

Deloplaine played for two other teams (Chicago and Washington) before he retired, averaging 4.5 yards per carry over the course of his 40-game career. He was given the nickname “Hydroplane” after he ran the ball effectively during a rainy preseason game.

Notably, the first game of the 1976 preseason — an infamous contest against a College All-Star Team that featured a handful of Steelers draft picks — was called off in the midst of a torrential downpour. The Steelers were leading 24-0 when the teams left Soldier Field with 1:22 left in the third quarter, at which point fans stormed the field and tore down the goal posts.

Deloplaine’s draft class also featured the first-ever Mr. Irrelevant, wide receiver Kelvin Kirk (USC), who was the last pick of Round 17 (selected No. 487 overall).

Deloplaine is at least the second ex-Steelers player to die in the past three weeks. In mid-July former first-round wide receiver Charles Johnson died at age 50.

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Ex-Steelers Lineman Rashaad Coward Signs With Arizona

In other news, former Steelers offensive lineman Rashaad Coward has signed a contract with the Cardinals, having previously been afforded an opportunity to try out with Arizona.

He joins an offense that also features former Steelers running back James Conner and former Steelers offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, the latter of whom started 31 games at tackle for the Cards over the past two seasons.

Conner signed a new three-year contract with the Cardinals on March 14, 2022, having scored a total of 18 touchdowns for Arizona in 2021 after being reunited with ex-Steelers running backs coach James Saxon. It was the second Pro Bowl season of his five-year NFL career, which got underway after Pittsburgh made him a third-round pick in the 2017 draft.


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