He is regarded as one of the greatest offensive linemen produced by the University of Pennsylvania. One of his favorite memories as a Quaker was a season opening win as a senior in 1990 over Dartmouth.
“I’ll never forget that game, coming into the locker room with all the guys that I had gone into school with as freshmen. Now we’re seniors, and to beat the ultimate Ivy League champion, Dartmouth, they were favored at that point early on, on national television," he recalled.
"It was a beautiful day in Hanover, it was sunny. It was funny, because one of the players on their front line had been sending me postcards, sort of bulletin board fodder over the summer. Which probably wasn’t the best idea on his part; it just got me more fired up. If he probably thought it was going to get into my head, it wasn’t the right thing to do."
Valerio was a second round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs coming out of Penn in the 1991 NFL Draft. He also served as an extra tight end in goal line situations at times with the Chiefs. One day in practice in 1993, the offensive coordinator noticed he could catch.
"Paul Hackett turns to me and says, 'Joe, you’re going to catch a touchdown pass this year.' I was like, 'Coach, this West Coast offense really opens things up if you've got guys like me going out.' He said, 'No, mark my words, you are going to score this year,'" he remembered.
"Needless to say, against the Raiders, we put the play in. It was 'Fake 16 George U Slam' and I was the U. I had to slam and go out into the corner and make it look like a run play and there I was, wide open against the Raiders."
That was the first of four touchdowns Valerio caught in his NFL career. Three of those passes, including that one against the Raiders, were thrown by Hall of Famer Joe Montana.