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Tragedy as former Denver Broncos offensive lineman and Notre Dame star dies at just 35

Tragedy as ex-Denver Broncos offensive lineman dies at just 35 after cardiac arrest on a run reveals heartbroken wife asked her daughters to listen to his morning playlist as she broke the news

  • Paul Duncan, who has two young daughters with his wife Ellen, died at the age of 35
  • He went into cardiac arrest on July 15 and was pronounced brain dead the next day
  • Duncan was an offensive lineman for Notre Dame and for the Denver Broncos
  • Ellen said that when she first told the children that her father had died, her daughter asked Dillon to listen to the song ‘Dad Just Added to the Morning Playlist’

Paul Duncan, a former Notre Dame offensive lineman who had a brief NFL career with the Denver Broncos, has died at the age of 35 after going into cardiac arrest while walking in his Georgia neighborhood.

The resident of Georgia, who has two young daughters with his wife Ellen, fell unconscious on July 15 and was pronounced brain dead in the following days.

“We will have a medical examination to understand the cause of death,” Ellen wrote on Instagram. ‘His body will be donated to people who need organs and to medical research.’

Paul Duncan, a former Notre Dame offensive lineman who had a short NFL career, has died at the age of 35 after going into cardiac arrest while out for a run in his Georgia neighborhood. The former Notre Dame football star, who has two young daughters with his wife Ellen (right), fell unconscious on July 15 and was pronounced brain dead in the following days

Denver Broncos rookie lineman Paul Duncan carries teammates' pads off the field after NFL football training camp in 2010

Paul Duncan #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish moves to block De'Shon Matthews #96 of the Washington Huskies on October 3, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame beat Washington 37-30 in overtime

Duncan had a short NFL career with the Broncos after 18 collegiate starts at Notre Dame

A native of Georgia, Duncan met his wife Ellen when they were both at Notre Dame. In this photo. In this photo, the couple attended a Georgia-Notre Dame game in Athens in 2019

A native of Georgia, Duncan met his wife Ellen when they were both at Notre Dame. In this photo. In this photo, the couple attended a Georgia-Notre Dame game in Athens in 2019

Ellen, Duncan's lover, posted a message on Instagram saying that when she first told the children that their father had died, her daughter asked Dillon to listen to the song that 'Dad just added to the morning playlist'

Ellen, Duncan’s lover, posted a message on Instagram saying that when she first told the children that their father had died, her daughter asked Dillon to listen to the song that ‘Dad just added to the morning playlist’

EXERCISE-RELATED SUDEN CARDIAC Arrest

The American College of Cardiology says most experts are baffled by sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in sports because athletes are generally seen as healthier and less likely to have heart attacks.

Exercise-related SAC typically occurs in men who are 35 and older, with the vast majority having a history of coronary artery disease, 84 percent, or other heart complications.

The ACC found that more than a third of those who experienced SCA during exercise reported cardiovascular symptoms in the week leading up to the heart attack.

The survival rate for such attacks was about 58 percent for younger athletes.

In North America and Europe, these cases range from 500 to 1,000 per million per year in the general population.

In the world of sports, about 22 cases occur per million athletes per year.

Ellen, Duncan’s college sweetheart, said that when she first told the children their father had died, their daughter Dillon asked to listen to the song that ‘Dad just added to the morning playlist.’

‘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 as she posted a video of Duncan dancing at a family gathering.

‘Paul was definitely dancing with Jesus,’ Ellen said, adding: ‘Thank you for the continued love and support.’

Dancing was a big part of Duncan’s life with his daughters, according to his obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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

Duncan was an offensive lineman for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team from 2005 to 2009 and then played briefly for the NFL’s Denver Broncos.

Duncan was a “proud Southerner,” according to his obituary, which says he was named the best offensive lineman in Georgia as a student at East Paulding High School, where he also excelled in basketball.

He made 18 starts at Notre Dame before signing with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent.

Duncan also volunteered with AmeriCorps to build homes for the needy in Indiana.

Ellen posted a note on Instagram telling friends and fans that he had died while she was walking

Ellen posted a note on Instagram telling friends and fans that he had died while she was walking

Duncan met his wife, Ellen (right), when the two were enrolled at Notre Dame

Duncan met his wife, Ellen (right), when the two were enrolled at Notre Dame

Duncan lived in the Atlanta area with his family, where he worked in construction management

Duncan lived in the Atlanta area with his family, where he worked in construction management

That interest in building led Duncan to go into construction management in Chicago and Atlanta, working on projects that included schools and highways.

The Notre Dame football team said in a statement: ‘Our prayers go out to the family and friends of Paul Duncan. A great teammate, but even more importantly a dear husband and father.’

Duncan’s funeral will be held Monday in Brookhaven, Georgia, where the family lives.

The Notre Dame football team paid tribute to their former player Paul Duncan

The Notre Dame football team paid tribute to their former player Paul Duncan

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Tragedy as former Denver Broncos offensive lineman and Notre Dame star dies at just 35

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