Paul Duncan, former Notre Dame lineman, dead at 35

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Paul Duncan, a former offensive lineman who played at Notre Dame and who briefly spent time in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, died after going into cardiac arrest while on a run in his Georgia neighborhood, according to an Instagram message posted by his wife, Ellen. He was 35. 

According to the message, Duncan, who leaves behind a wife and two young daughters, went into cardiac arrest during a July 15 run and was pronounced brain dead the next day.

“We will have a medical examination to understand cause of death,” Duncan’s wife shared on Instagram. “His body will be donated to people in need of organs and to medical research.”

Upon hearing the news of her father’s sudden passing, one of the the couple’s daughters, Dillon, asked to listen to the song that “Dad just added to the morning playlist.” 

Paul Duncan (72) during a game against Washington in 2009.
Getty Images

“I didn’t know what she meant so I looked on our Amazon music app and she pointed to ‘I can only imagine’ by MercyMe,” Ellen wrote on Instagram alongside a clip of Paul gleefully dancing at a family event. “Paul definitely danced meeting Jesus.”

Dancing was a commonality in the Duncan household, according to the linemen’s obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the 35-year-old seamlessly embraced the role of “girl dad,” always ensuring he’d make time for his two daughters.

“Dillon and Sloane loved Paul’s impromptu dance parties in the kitchen and his adventures with them in the water, whether it was at the lake with family or at the pool with friends,” the obituary read.

Duncan played at Notre Dame from 2005-09 and started 18 games for the Fighting Irish. He later joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent for a brief stint in the NFL.

Addressing Duncan’s passing, The Notre Dame football team said, “Our prayers go out to the family and friends of Paul Duncan. A great teammate, but more importantly a loving husband and father.”

Following his time at Notre Dame, Duncan spent a year volunteering with AmeriCorps in Indiana to build homes for the homeless. His funeral mass will take place on Monday in Brookhaven, Ga.

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