Steve DeLong, 1964 winner of Outland Trophy, dies at 67

Tennessee's Steve DeLong, right, receives a plaque for being named first-team All-American in 1963.

Photo by News Sentinel

Tennessee's Steve DeLong, right, receives a plaque for being named first-team All-American in 1963.

Steve DeLong, a shining talent at a time when Tennessee football was struggling, died Wednesday.

DeLong, 67, had suffered a broken neck and bruised spinal cord in 2002 when he fell down stairs near his Newport home. Left partially paralyzed, DeLong persevered through a lengthy hospitalization and rehab stint.

His death came Wednesday at Mercy Medical Center St. Mary’s in Knoxville. Funeral arrangements are pending.

He won the Outland Trophy in 1964 as college football’s top interior lineman.

“He was a great player on a very average team,’’ said Doug Dickey, DeLong’s coach in 1964.

“To have won that award was an unusual accomplishment, but he was truly deserving of it. It was the first national award won by a Tennessee player.’’

Dickey was DeLong’s third coach in three years.

He played for Bowden Wyatt in 1962 when the Vols went 4-6. His second coach was Jim McDonald in 1963 on a 5-5 team.

Dickey’s 1964 team went 4-6-1, yet DeLong’s prowess stood out.

He was named to the SEC All-Sophomore team in 1962 and was first-team All-SEC in 1963 and 1964.

DeLong was twice an All-American and in 1964 was recognized as the nation’s best defensive lineman by the Columbus Touchdown Club, the Birmingham Touchdown Club and Look magazine.

Following his senior year DeLong was MVP of the Senior Bowl and was the sixth player selected by both the NFL Chicago Bears and AFL San Diego Chargers in their respective 1965 drafts.

He signed with the Chargers and played through 1971. His final NFL season was with Chicago in 1972.

DeLong was enshrined by the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

DeLong came to UT from Norfolk, Va. His brother Ken was an All-SEC tight end for the Vols from 1967-69.

DeLong’s son Keith was an outstanding middle linebacker from 1985-88. They are UT’s only father-son All-America combination.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 31

voloffaith writes:

Great family and players. Notice a player winning an award while on a team with a losing record? My have things changed. But this article is about his passing so I am saddened for those left behind.

bustervols writes:

What a great Vol family.

GerryOP writes:

Sad news. A great player and a great person.

Had several classes with him. Remember him well!

Will never forget, I think it was '63, seeing DeLong, Evey, and another guy (it could have been Petrella or Emanuel) busting through the patio wall at our house one night. Saw me standing there and calmly said "Hey classmate, can you spare us a beer or two!" Got 'em a beer, they said "Thanks!" and walked back through the busted wall! The next day Steve showed up to help us rebuild the wall!

God bless and God speed Steve Delong. Only the good die young.

theoldbear writes:

Second member of that class to die recently. John Paty was the other. I was a freshman when Steve was a senior, and Ken was a sophomore starter my senior year.

These were rough, tough, players on the field who were gentlemen off the field, in my opinion. I had classes with both, and they were humble, maybe even studious!

What great examples they should be, especially Steve, to today's Vols. That 1964 defense was probably one of the best in the school's history, but the offense was just learning how to play T-formation football.

I could go on and on, but we lost a true Vol. GOd bless the DeLong family!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

RIP Steve

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

This sucks; he really was a great baller. All the DeLongs where. 67?? Well, it's young for nowadays, I surely do wish he could have enjoyed hsi recent years more.

John Ward sure made you know'em....

tnsportsman writes:

RIP Steve, Oh man what a great guy and family! Thank you for your kind words in 1973 after my total knee surgery!

This hurts!

We have lost so many Tennessee Greats the last 2 years! We need UT History Classes to carry on the Traditions these Greats started!

GOD BLESS!

OrangePride writes:

I was here from 1963 to 1966. I tried to walk-on during that time and I recall that Steve was so very, very nice to me and helpful. His only desire was that Tennessee be successful and compete on every down. I'm sad to see him leave us and send my deepest sympathies to his family.

kdaff51 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

One of the reasons I became a Vol fan...........Steve and his era will be greatly missed.

FWBVol writes:

My prayers are with Keith and the rest of the DeLong family in the loss of Steve.

I never had the opportunity to meet Steve, but I got to know Keith pretty well while working in Sports Information.

They say the apple never falls from the tree, and the DeLongs had some tree.

RIP Steve.

roloyo writes:

When I heard the news this afternoon, it was like someone had punched me in the stomach. You were a hero to me thru high school and beyond. A true Volunteer in every respect. RIP my friend.

wofford writes:

The finest lineman that ever walked the planet! 45 years later I still hear"Tackle by DeeeeLong"It was like watching Pete Maravich play.....he was such a great distraction you missed the game! God bless.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He was one of my dad's favorites also,Big....Sad to see the old warriors go...RIP..& GBO.

InertGas writes:

I'm 61. He was my first Volunteer hero.
I pray that the Good Lord provide peace and comfort to the DeLong family.

slipshuck writes:

what a player....may he RIP...

volfan#207874 writes:

What a great player! Steve never took a down "off, he was full speed and agressive on every play. We are saddened to learn of his passing. His son Keith was also a holy terror at linebacker. I truly enjoyed watching them play the game. For some reason I do not have memories of Ken, but am sure that being a DeLong he more than held up his position. Condolences and prayers to family, former team mates friends and the entire Vol nation. Earth's loss is Heaven's gain. Rip big guy, we'll miss you.

Ralph_Crampton writes:

So long Steve we Vol fans loved you. I think you were the first of the incomparable talent that new coach Doug Dickey brought in. From then on the Vols outrecruited every team in the SEC and that includes the Bear. The "Bear" would ask if this or that great player had already signed with Bama, he was told that new coach Dickey at Tennessee had already beat them to the punch. "Bear" enraged rededicated himself to signing every good player and load the Bama roster with the best talent in the South. But he found it was a battle to go head-to-head with the Vols new coach. With the exception of Neyland no coach had beaten the "Bear" three years in a row. Thus Dickey was the new kid on the block that could match him in recruiting. When Dickey in a surprize move suddenly bolted to Florida, everyone was shocked..but he left loads of great athletes for new coach Bill Battle. I think if Dickey had stayed with the Vols..he probably would have won several National championships in the 70's. How and why did Bob Woodruff allow him to leave> Woodruff was AD. This still remains a mystery why he left the Vols just as they were coming into their own as a national power may never be known.

NeylandWest writes:

I hope TN does something to honor this man's memory. What an outstanding Vol!

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Our prayers go out to you and your family! I met Steve on the strip in 1998. What a nice guy!

He was way too young to die.

PopsinCapetownSA writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Sad news. A great player and a great person.

Had several classes with him. Remember him well!

Will never forget, I think it was '63, seeing DeLong, Evey, and another guy (it could have been Petrella or Emanuel) busting through the patio wall at our house one night. Saw me standing there and calmly said "Hey classmate, can you spare us a beer or two!" Got 'em a beer, they said "Thanks!" and walked back through the busted wall! The next day Steve showed up to help us rebuild the wall!

God bless and God speed Steve Delong. Only the good die young.

Great story GerryOP. Thanks from POP$ in Capetown South Africa.

RockyTopVolFan writes:

I remember him as one of our all time great players. I saw him play and he was really outstanding for the Volunteers. In fact, you may say that about all his family that played here. He started a great family tradition for the Volunteers and it hurts to see him finally go down.

Thanks for all that the DeLong family has done for Tennessee. I will truly miss Steve but always remember him for his greatness on the field.

gillblog writes:

Steve visited my high school summer football camp once. I remember he looked huge to me then and as a freshman on the team I was pretty intimidated. He quickly won everybody over with his easy-going manner and the interest he showed in us individually. When we weren't on the practice field, I remember him being a quiet guy even somewhat shy among a crowd of people.
This is a loss to us all.

PennVol writes:

He was a little before my time as a Vol fan (my first game was '72) but I remember him in the NFL and for all I've heard we could easily justify having a street on campus named after him.

Mule_Days_King writes:

God bless the DeLong family.
Thanks to all the posters here sharing their memories of Steve. Those of us who are too young to have seen him play relish the stories. It might not be a bad idea for those who can remember that era to share a story or two every day.

bamabeth#1388350 writes:

I only meet Steve last year after my aunt moved into the same health care facility. He was such a nice person and everyone there thought the world of him. Being a serious fan of SEC football, we quickly became good friends. Many of the patients and staff there had no idea that he was once a great athlete. He didn't tell them, and was a little embarrassed if you did. The ever present orange hat he wore told everyone that he was a dedicated UT fan though. I once gave him a Bama hat but never could convince him to wear it! He shared lots of interesting and/or funny stories about his football escapades and experiences. He'd even humor me with stories about the Bear, and about his battles, and friendship, with Joe Namath, both in college and in the pros. The way Steve accepted his physical confinement with dignity, while remaining positive and cheerful, was an inspiration. He was a special gentleman and was loved and respected by everyone. You could usually find him sitting out front enjoying the sunshine and flashing that wonderful smile to to all who came by. He will be missed.

johnlg00 writes:

Thanks to all for sharing their memories of one of the greatest Vols ever! I was a UT freshman during his last year but never met him personally. Many years later, I often sat in with a bluegrass combo in the lounge of the old Holiday Inn on Magnolia Ave./Asheville Highway. We seldom had more than a handful of listeners each night but Steve was there often. He always had a good time and showed it, but he was always under control and was generous to all of us with drinks and tips. I will always remember him as both a great player and a genuinely nice guy. RIP, Steve, and thanks for my special memories.

AugVol writes:

A really sad story for an all-time great Vol. Rest in Peace, Mr. DeLong. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

wofford writes:

In 1964 UT beat an undefeated Ga. Tech team in Atlanta.Delong was simply tremendous!After the game at an alumni gathering I LISTENED WHILE MY DAD TALKED WITH FORMER Vol greats Ed Cifers and Frank HUBBELL. WHEN MYdad commented that he couldn't believe that the tech player hadn't FUMBLED after a big Delong hit Mr. Cifers commented" You can't fumble when you're whole body is numb"!
what a memory. RIP

murrayvol writes:

Winning the Outland Trophy on a 4-5-1 team tells you all you need to know about how good this guy was.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

RIP Steve,

Never got to see him play, but his son was fun to watch. Prayers for the Delongs.

cloudodust writes:

His name echoed inside many offensive ball handlers helmets of his day. A player. A hitter. A Vol.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features