The Tragic Death Of Former NFL Player Paul Duncan

Ex-NFL and Notre Dame football player Paul Duncan died at age 35. His wife, Ellen Duncan, announced the tragic news on Instagram. "Yesterday, Friday, July 15th, Paul went into cardiac arrest while on a run in our neighborhood," she wrote. "Today, he was pronounced brain dead." Ellen shared that they would donate his organs to those in need and for medical research, as per his wishes.

"Our prayers go out to the family and friends of Paul Duncan. A great teammate, but more importantly a loving husband and father," Notre Dame tweeted following the sad news. Friends and family also paid tribute to the athlete and loyal family man. "There are no words sufficient to describe the grief and heartbreak in losing Paul this past weekend," Kyle McCarthy wrote. The former Bronco said Paul had "an absolute heart of gold" and always put his "faith and family above all else." A Notre Dame freshman from Paul's senior year commented on what "a great guy" he was. "We loved Paul dearly," wrote a family friend

Paul's obituary (via Atlanta Journal-Constitution) echoes the sentiments. It hails him as a supporting husband and doting "girl dad" who would fix his daughters' hair before school. "Dillon and Sloane loved Paul's impromptu dance parties in the kitchen and his adventures with them in the water," it reads. "He loved to end the day by kicking up his feet and smoking a cigar to celebrate the cheerful moments that were constants in his life," it continues.

Paul Duncan's death is under investigation

The New York Post reports Paul Duncan played on the offensive line for Notre Dame from 2005 to 2009, starting 18 games throughout his time. Paul volunteered for Americorps for a year following his graduation, building homes for the homeless in Indiana. While working as a building contractor, he signed to the Denver Broncos as a free agent for a short stint.

According to E! News, Paul's death is being investigated by the DeKalb County, Georgia medical examiner's office. Per Sportskeeda, Duncan is one of several NFL athletes that have died unexpectedly this year. His sudden death follows the passing of Marion Barber III, a 38-year-old former running back for the Cowboys and Bears. Barber was discovered unresponsive in his Texas apartment in June. Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson died at age 26 in June 2022. The autopsy ruled that he had overdosed on cocaine and fentanyl.

Accusations that the NFL has tried to hide the dangers of football have been flying for years. Many former players have spoken out about the negative impact their football careers had on their health. "Many ex-players who tragically died early and donated their brains to medical research were discovered to have brain damage consistent with an 80-year-old with dementia at just 50 years of age," Bleacher Report writes. They specifically call attention to the danger for linemen. In January 2022, The NFL released new measures, including "cutting-edge football helmets, data-gathering sensors, and a turf testing machine."