Who is Jake Delhomme?
Jake Delhomme is a former American football quarterback who played primarily for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League. He played both as quarterback and defensive back in high school, and playing for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette at collegiate levelled the Ragin' Cajuns to three consecutive winning seasons. Still undrafted following the 1997 NFL Draft, he joined the New Orleans Saints as a free agent, but during his five seasons there, remained mostly in their practice squad, apart from being sent to play in the NFL Europe for two seasons. His career as a starting quarterback began after he was signed by the Panthers, whom he led to Super Bowl XXXVIII in his first season. He made numerous records during his stay with the team, and later played briefly for the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans before his retirement.
Childhood & Early Life
Jake Christopher Delhomme was born on January 10, 1975, in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, United States, to Jerry and Marcia Delhomme, members of the Cajuns ethnic group. Born to a jockey whose father was a horse-breeder, both he and his brother Jeff were interested in horses, and also played basketball and football.
He attended the private Teurlings Catholic High School where he played as both quarterback and defensive back. He was named to the all-state team in high school for his defensive capabilities, and also served as Senior Beta Club president of his chapter in Louisiana.
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Jake Delhomme attended his mother's alma matter, the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana-Lafayette), where he was the only true freshman quarterback to start for a Division I-A school in 1993. As a freshman, he made school history passing for more than 1,000 yards, and with 124.5 passer efficiency rating, ranked second among NCAA freshman quarterbacks.
He led the Ragin' Cajuns to three consecutive winning seasons and helped win the Big West Conference twice with teammates like future NFL wide receiver Brandon Stokley and offensive lineman Anthony Clement. He also contributed in an improbable win over highly favored Texas A&M and started in his last 43 games, registering the longest streak among active quarterbacks nationally.
He finished his college career as the all-time passing leader with 9,216 yards, 64 touchdowns and 57 interceptions, and became the first player to pass for over 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. He ended his career ranking 22nd in NCAA history for passing yards and 28th for total offense.
Jake Delhomme, who remained undrafted in the 1997 NFL Draft, was later signed as a free agent by the New Orleans Saints, but spent his first season on the practice squad. In 1998, he was allocated to the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe and served as a backup quarterback to Kurt Warner, a future NFL and Super Bowl MVP.
He was again signed to the Saints' practice squad before being sent to the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe for the 1999 season, following which he paired with Pat Barnes for their 'Double-Headed Quarterback Monster'. The unorthodox twin-quarterback strategy helped the Galaxy win World Bowl '99 over the Barcelona Dragons and earned Delhomme a callback to be the full-time third-string quarterback for the Saints.
Despite starting two games for New Orleans in 1999, he was not played in the next two seasons, but appeared in four games in the 2002 season as backup to Aaron Brooks and Jeff Blake. However, he led all NFC quarterbacks in overall passer rating during preseason in 2001-02, which prompted fans to chant his name as the team struggled to perform.
His performance against Dallas Cowboys in 1999 impressed Carolina Panthers coach John Fox and earned him offers from both teams, but he signed with the Panthers in 2003. In the season opener against Jacksonville Jaguars, he came in for starting quarterback Rodney Peete at halftime and led the team to a comeback victory from 17–0, securing the starting position for himself.
He set the record for the most game-winning drives by a quarterback in one season with eight fourth-quarter drives, and led a Cinderella run for the Panthers, defeating Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game. While he registered a record for longest offensive play against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, his team lost the match on a last-minute field goal.
In the 2004 season, he set career-high pass attempts, completions, overall yardage, and touchdowns, but repeated injuries in the team line-up during the first half of the season eventually cost them playoff berth. He secured playoffs in 2005, setting the team record of 11 victories as a starting quarterback and registering career highs in completion percentage and passer rating, but they lost the championship to the Seattle Seahawks.
Delhomme missed three games due to thumb injury in the 2006 season, during which he broke Steve Beuerlein's team records for completions and passing yards, and of 150 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. In the third game of the next season, he sustained an elbow injury for which he had to undergo a season-ending Tommy John surgery two weeks later.
On his return in 2008, he helped the Panthers equal their 2nd-best franchise record of 12-4, but also caused the team's elimination from the playoffs throwing for career-worst five interceptions in the divisional round. He signed a 5-year extension in April 2009, but struggled with his performance early on during the season, before breaking a finger on his throwing hand and being replaced by Matt Moore.
A week after being released by the Panthers in March 2010, he signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Browns and won the starting position during training camp, but suffered ankle sprain in the season-opener. He suffered another injury while making a return during Week 5, and played only five games for the team before being released in July 2011.
After the Houston Texans lost two quarterbacks to injuries, they signed Delhomme in November 2011 to backup rookie T. J. Yates and played him in the season finale against the Titans. Appearing in the final game of his career, he set a potential game-winning drive which was marred by a botched snap on a two-point attempt play, resulting in a loss.
Family & Personal Life
Jake Delhomme married his childhood sweetheart, Keri Melancon, on February 11, 2000. They have two daughters: Lauren Elizabeth, born in December 2001, and Lindsey Marie, born in February 2007.
Following his retirement, he joined his father and older brother in their family business of breeding racehorses, apart from working in the banking industry and training his daughters in various sports. He also served as the pitchman for Bojangles’, a Cajun fast food restaurant, and joined the Panthers' radio team as a color analyst in August 2019.
His No. 11 jersey at Teurlings Catholic was retired during a ceremony and he was inducted into the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Athletic Hall of Fame during Homecoming 2006. In July 2019, he was inducted into the Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor.
Jake Delhomme wore jersey No.17 because it is the date of birth of his eldest daughter, who was born after 17 hours of labor.