Many fathers in south Louisiana bond with their children in duck blinds or fishing holes.
For Jerry Delhomme, quality time with his two sons often meant teaching them to help train his horses.
“That was just something we always loved,” said Jake Delhomme, the younger of Jerry and Marcia Delhomme’s two boys. “We didn’t really hunt or fish. We didn’t play golf much. We played sports, and we got bit by the horse bug at an early age.”
Playing sports — not racing horses — led Jake Delhomme and his brother, Jeff, to their most noteworthy achievements.
Jeff Delhomme played football for McNeese State as a top wide receiver from 1987-90. Jake played quarterback for Louisiana-Lafayette from 1993-96, then spent 11 seasons throwing passes in the NFL, a career highlighted by his 323-yard, three-touchdown performance in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
But now that the footballs have stopped flying, Jake Delhomme, who retired from the NFL after the 2011 season, has returned to his roots in horse racing.
Along with Jeff and Jerry, Jake Delhomme owns Set-Hut Stables, the stable name for the horses the family owns and trains.
“I pinch myself every once in a while being able to work with both my boys,” Jerry Delhomme, 67, said.
“It’s exciting. I look forward to each day.”
Growing up the son of a horse trainer himself, Jerry Delhomme has been hooked on horse racing since his days entering match races on the bush tracks near his Breaux Bridge home.
A family pastime was quickly passed to Delhomme’s own two boys.
“It’s a lot of work, and it’s every day,” Jake Delhomme said. “But I’m certain a lot of people would be envious that someone gets to go to work every day with their dad and brother. I don’t have any trouble getting up and going to the track in the morning.”
Jake Delhomme said the values he learned while training horses as a child showed themselves in his development as a football star.
He saw that, when a horse was properly prepared, it would run well on the track.
Such was life as an NFL quarterback, be it in the film room or on the practice field.
“You prepare yourself for everything that could come your way during that particular game,” Delhomme said. “You do everything in your power to do it the right way and do it correctly. I learned that from an early age.
“If you’ve done everything the correct way and the right way, it’s easy to sleep well at night.”
In retirement, Delhomme has found in horse racing an outlet for his competitive juices.
“You read where so many guys have trouble transitioning from professional football into regular life,” Delhomme said. “All their life, they’ve been playing sports and excelling from an early age. When it’s all said and done and guys are not competing anymore, that competitive drive will always be there.”
Jerry Delhomme and his sons train their horses at the Evangeline Downs Training Center in Carencro and race them throughout the state.
Fittingly, the names of the horses the Delhommes race often reflect the family’s other passion.
“Seventy-two Reno” was the name of a play the Panthers ran in the Super Bowl. “She Hate Me” was a play on the nickname Rod Smart, one of Jake’s former teammates in Carolina, wore on the back of his XFL jersey.
Several years ago, Jerry Delhomme called to check on his son one Sunday after Jake suffered a concussion.
“I’m all right,” Jake Delhomme told his father. “I’m a little woozy.”
In the summer of 2006, the Delhommes watched “Woozy” capture the $150,000 Shine Young Futurity at Evangeline Downs.
Jerry Delhomme, who has retired after 38 years working for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture as a food safety inspector, said the family has about 10 horses in training.
“I’m just fortunate as a father to be able to work with my sons every day, seven days a week,” Jerry Delhomme said. “We have a good understanding of each other.
“There’s a lot of hard work in training. If you have to go to a meeting or need to do something and need time off, it’s a good feeling to know that your family is there and things will be run the same.”
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