Joe Flacco quarterbacked the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in February and signed a lucrative contract soon after. Elena Delle Donne led the UD women’s basketball team to its most successful season ever and was the No. 2 draft pick in the WNBA.
So, which former Delaware Blue Hen is the best athlete?
Elena-mania was all the rage as the Blue Hens became one of the state’s top sports stories of the year. But Flacco grabbed his share of local headlines thanks to his heroics in the playoffs, being named Super Bowl MVP, as well as news of the $120.6 million contract that made him, for a short time, the NFL’s highest paid player ever.
Delle Donne, a Wilmington native, is a homegrown hero going back to her uber-successful high school hoops days at Ursuline Academy. And her star is burning even brighter as she begins her professional career.
Flacco grew up in Audubon, N.J., but we were quick to adopt him after his two record-setting seasons at UD. To this day, you’ll still see plenty of folks wearing his No. 5 Blue Hens jersey. You can even pick up a Flacco bobblehead at the 5 & 10 on Newark’s Main Street. Of course, plenty of purple No. 5 Ravens jerseys can be spotted throughout the state—and even more since February.
Let’s look at the accomplishments.
Delle Donne re-wrote the record books at UD and in the Colonial Athletic Association during her NCAA career. She was second in the nation in scoring average (26 points per game) and received the Honda Award as the top college athlete in her sport.
Delle Donne was the No. 2 pick in the WNBA draft, going to the Chicago Sky. She led the Sky to a victory in her debut in late May.
A four-time All American, Delle Donne is the fifth-leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,039 career points. She holds 11 UD career records.
The Hens went 32-4 during Delle Donne’s senior season and captured their second straight CAA title, going undefeated in conference play during that stretch. The team capped its best season ever by beating West Virginia and North Carolina to advance to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
Flacco’s NFL career has been nothing short of stellar. The pinpoint passer led the Ravens to a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game’s MVP.
Flacco tied an NFL record held by Kurt Warner and Joe Montana with 11 TD passes during the postseason. He then signed the huge contract, which included a $29 million signing bonus.
At UD, Flacco started all 26 games after he transferred from the University of Pittsburgh. During his two seasons, he set 20 school records and was named ECAC All-East Player of the Year and CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2007.
He led the Hens to the FCS championship game, which they lost to powerhouse Appalachian State. Flacco completed 331 of 521 passes that season for a school record 4,263 yards and 23 TDs.
He threw for more than 200 yards 13 times that season and set school records with 595 completions and 11 300-yard passing games. He ranks second all-time at UD in career passing yards (7,046).
There you have it. You make the call.