home sitesearch sitemap contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

Former Football: Cajuns’ Delhomme — hometown hero with humble heart – video football 96 highlights

Bruce Brown, Special to the Advertiser, June 20, 2015



Jake Delhomme is shown in his official Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame portrait.(Photo: Courtesy of Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame/Chris Brown)


Jake Delhomme is still the same person he’s always been.

That might not seem that hard, but after all he’s achieved, the Breaux Bridge product still remains a product of his south Louisiana roots.

When Delhomme helped rescue Lafayette’s Teurlings Catholic from the doldrums and into the state playoffs, it didn’t go to his head. If anything, it drove him to work harder.

USL’s Ragin’ Cajuns endured a 2-9 campaign in 1992, but true freshman Delhomme took over at quarterback midway through the 1993 season opener and promptly sparked the Cajuns to an 8-3 finish.

Again, his reaction was to seek improvement, and he threw for a career record 9,216 yards and 64 touchdowns at the school.

He was 25-18 as the starter, including a 29-22 upset of No. 25 Texas A&M in 1996, and never lost to an in-state foe.

Then, when he got his chance to lead an NFL team after years as a backup in New Orleans, Delhomme directed the 2003 Carolina Panthers to their only Super Bowl berth.

That stage wasn’t too big, either, as he threw for 323 yards and three scores in a thrilling 32-29 loss to New England.

With each step along the way, including 20,975 yards and 126 TDs in 11 NFL seasons, Delhomme stepped up to lead. And yet, he remained the same person throughout.

“It means he was raised right,” said Teurlings coach Sonny Charpentier, who was Delhomme’s TCHS position coach. “He’s grounded, and he’s got his priorities straight. His dad and mom (Jerry, Marcia) did a good job.

“He has definitely never forgotten where he came from, like some (pro) athletes do. He’s a huge ambassador for this area.”

Notre Dame Pioneers coach Lewis Cook saw many of the same qualities as USL’s offensive coordinator.

“That’s why, as an 18-year-old, Jake was able to step in and lead us from 2-9 the previous year to 8-3,” Cook said. “He was grounded, mature, highly motivated and extremely competitive.

“He went at it and attacked it. What you see is what you get with Jake.”

Delhomme will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on June 27, joining a class that includes among others Carencro’s Kevin Faulk and Broussard’s Yvette Girouard, but he remains the same approachable Cajun he was when he was young.

“It hasn’t changed my life,” Delhomme said. “It has put me in contact with a lot of people I hadn’t talked to in a while. I’ve invited a lot of people as a token of gratitude.

“The Hall of Fame allows you to take a step back and appreciate the people and places that have been a part of my life, and how lucky I was that things worked out for me.”

Delhomme relied on his solid upbringing for strength and patience as he awaited his turn in the NFL – similar to Hall of Famer Ron Guidry with the New York Yankees in the 1970’s.

“I was so proud of him,” Charpentier said of Delhomme. “There were so many times he could have said it was not meant to be. But when the lights came on, he was always ready.

“He deserved everything he got. That’s why I think he appreciates it more. So many just give up. It takes a guy who believes.”

“Quite honestly, I did question whether I would get the chance,” said Delhomme, undrafted in 1997. “It was by chance I got a free agent tryout with the Saints. I got the call to be their training camp arm, then once I got there I said this is not too big for me.”

He languished on the Saints bench, with no pass attempts for two years, before defeating Dallas in a late-season start in 1999. Then it was back to the bench until 2002 mop-up duty as coach Jim Haslett stuck with Aaron Brooks and missed the playoffs.

Delhomme even played in NFL Europe to get seasoning, but he lost some prime years.

“The talent level is fairly close,” he said. “The difference is, what drives you? Are you mentally strong enough to make it?”

His patience finally bore fruit when he signed with the Panthers.

“I loved what I did for a living, and I ended up in the right place,” Delhomme said. “In Charlotte, the owner (Jerry Richardson), team and structure are all there. I took true ownership in what came with my job, and to walk into that locker room after a win on Sunday was the pinnacle for me.”

Delhomme caught lightning in a bottle in 2003, leading Carolina to the Super Bowl with playoff wins over Dallas (29-10), St. Louis (29-23 in two overtimes) and Philadelphia (14-3) – the last two on the road.

The ex-Cajun hit 59-of-102 passes for 987 yards and six scores in the postseason, including a 69-yard TD to Steve Smith to end the Rams game and vault his team to the NFC title game against the Eagles.

“It was like a fast, happy dream,” Delhomme said of the Super Bowl clincher. “It was my first year starting, and I was still learning to be an NFL quarterback.

“It’s more than just playing. Injuries keep adding up. There’s a physical toll. You can never stop learning. The whole year was on fast-forward.

“Then, when we got in the huddle (with the game in hand), it was pure joy. I saw two grown men cry – two of my linemen, one a 13-year veteran and the other 11-year. I said, ‘Wow.’ That’s when you truly get it.”

Next was the Super Bowl, and that near-miss against Kevin Faulk and the Patriots.

“After the game, they rope off the field (for the trophy presentation) and the media is all over,” Delhomme said. “I wanted to be on the other side of that rope. I remember thinking about when – not if – we would get back and win it.”

The Panthers reached the NFC Championship Game again in 2005, losing at Seattle, and also made the playoffs in 2008. But they were never super again.

Delhomme stayed with Carolina through 2009, had an injury-shortened 2010 campaign with Cleveland and was a midseason insurance pickup with the Houston Texans in 2011.

His last NFL pass was a touchdown against Tennessee – full circle from a tip-drill interception first attempt in 1999 – and he finished 61-43 as a starting quarterback in the league.

Returning to the family business with Jerry and brother Jeff, Delhomme serves as vice president of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

“The biggest problem with a lot of guys (professional athletes) is that they don’t know what to do with themselves when they retire,” he said. “There is a large number of divorce and bankruptcy. There’s nothing to fill that competitive void.

“In horse racing, if you’re successful 17-20 percent of the time, that’s damn good. I love the competition.”

Delhomme and wife Keri keep busy with athletic daughters Lauren (12) and Lindsey (8), who thrive in Biddy Basketball with their father helping as a coach.

“I love that they love it,” he said. “But they also enjoy being around people. They’re proud when their teammates do well. They’re growing up and evolving.

“Without doubt, they get that from my wife. She’s full of life. Enthusiasm is something that gets lost. I don’t need negative, and we raise our kids that way.”

Asked what his legacy will be, Delhomme said, “I hope I’m remembered as a competitive SOB who will do whatever it takes to win. On the personal side, I want to be remembered as someone who enjoys life and treats people with respect. That’s good enough for me.”


This is one of a Louisiana Sports Writers Association series of stories featuring the members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s 2015 Induction Class. They will be enshrined June 27 in Natchitoches.

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas:

Click here for the highlights of the 1996 Football Season. Posted by Marty Cannon on YouTube.

Click here for the highlights of the USL vs. Texas A&M Football game at Cajun Field.

Click here for Jake’s profile which contains several stories posted during his playing days.

While logged on to www.athleticnetwork.net , click on Photo Gallery, Football and any of the years Jake played at USL.
Here are two photos posted in this 1996 Photo Gallery.