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Where Are They Now?: Jack Deloplaine

Thursday, July 25, 2002

By Rich Emert

Jack Deloplaine was nicknamed "The Hydroplane" as a Steelers rookie running back in 1976 because he ran well in the rain in a couple of preseason games.

Jack Deloplaine

A sixth-round draft pick from Salem (W.Va.) College, an NAIA school, he was the training camp sensation the year after the Steelers won Super Bowl X. Deloplaine rushed for 4,033 yards, including 1,516 his senior year, and scored 48 touchdowns in college. He was the fastest running back in the '76 camp for the Steelers and ended up winning a spot on the roster after gaining 240 yards on 40 carries in the preseason. He went on to earn a ring when the Steelers beat Dallas in Super Bowl XIII. Deloplaine, 48, lives on the North Side with his wife, Kathy, and sons Ryan, 19, and Todd, 17.

Q: What was it like going from a small college to the Super Bowl champs?

A: No one from Salem had ever been drafted before, so that was different. But after I was picked I worked hard to get ready for training camp because I wanted to give it my best shot. My senior year of college, I weighed 190 pounds. I came to camp at 215 and I hadn't lost any of my speed.

Q: What was the toughest part of training camp that first year?

A: To feel like I belonged. I'm from Pottstown, which is the other side of the state, but the Eagles were not that good when I was growing up, so I was a Pittsburgh fan. Then I went to college in Salem, W.Va., where everybody is a Steelers fan. And then I'm in training camp with guys that I idolized who have just won two Super Bowls. That wasn't easy.

Q: How did the veterans treat you?

A: They were great. Guys like Franco [Harris] and Rocky [Bleier] would help me out. It didn't matter that you were trying to take a job away from them, every one would give you a hand. It was just a great group of guys to be associated with. Chuck Noll and Andy Russell and Myron Cope have charity golf events, and I'll see guys there, and it's like you were just with them last week.

Q: What was it like playing for Chuck Noll?

A: I got along well with him. You knew when you were in his doghouse. He would just stare at you with those eyes and you knew you did something wrong. Fortunately, I was never in his doghouse for long.

Q: Do you think Noll liked you because you were a go-getter?

A: I don't know. I must have been doing something right because the Steelers waived me a couple times and I went to other teams, and when I was released by them Chuck would always get me back. That happened in '78, and I played two games with Washington and then was released, and the Steelers re-signed me. But I liked playing on the special teams -- the crazy man squad -- and was just goofy enough to do it well.

Q: Any good training camp stories?

A: You don't repeat camp stories.

Q: Your knees where the reason you had to retire?

A: I couldn't pass the physicals. I hurt my left knee the final game against Houston my rookie year, and that was the start of it. After the Steelers, I went to Miami, and then George Young with the New York Giants wanted to sign me. I'd go in and do fine in all the drills, but as soon as they'd see the X-rays, I was gone. I've been told I should have the one knee replaced, but I'm not going to do that right now.

Q: Did you ever think about getting into coaching?

A: I run the strength and conditioning program at North Catholic High School and enjoy doing that. I've got a thing where I still go bench press 400 pounds every year on my birthday and told the kids I'd do that until I'm 50.

Q: Do you go to Steelers games?

A: A few. I still get things in the mail from people who want an autograph to fill out a collection for the Super Bowl teams. I got a box from some place the other day. It's probably a football somebody wants signed. I'll do it and send it back. I was invited when they had the last game at Three Rivers. That was great ... to walk around the stands and shake hands with the fans.

If you have any suggestions or candidates for Where Are They Now?, e-mail Rich Emert at emert196@home.com.

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