Notre Dame All-American, Denver Broncos Lineman Pete Duranko Dies

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Pete Duranko was an All-America defensive lineman on the University of Notre Dame 1966 national championship team.  After his stellar college football career, he was a fourth-round selection (61st pick overall) by the Cleveland Browns in the 1966 NFL Draft. Duranko was also a second-round pick by the Denver Broncos in the ’66 AFL Draft. Duranko played defensive end and linebacker for Denver from 1967-70 (AFL) and 1972-74 (NFL).

Sadly, Duranko died Friday afternoon at Windber Hospice in Windber, Pa., after a decade-long long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was 67.

The 6-2, 235-pound Duranko was initially a backup fullback for the Fighting Irish in 1963 – gaining 93 yards on 26 attempts. He started the ’64 season at linebacker for ND making an interception in the opening win over the Wisconsin Badgers– but he missed the rest of the season due to injury suffered in Madison.

After moving to defensive left tackle in ’65, Duranko finished second on the squad in tackles with 95 (behind only Jim Lynch’s 108), including 14 versus North Carolina. Then, in ’66 he accounted for 73 tackles, recovered one fumble and broke up one pass.

Duranko played a key role on the ’66 championship defense that ranked second nationally in scoring defense (3.8 points per game), fourth in total defense (187.6 yards per game and the best Notre Dame defensive average since 1947) and ninth in rushing defense (79.3 yards per game). The ’66 Irish squad shut out six of its 10 opponents and allowed only five touchdowns all season long.

As a senior in 1966, Duranko received first-team All-America honors from UPI and the American Football Coaches Association, along with second-team recognition from TheSporting News and third-team honors from the AP.

Following his senior campaign, Duranko played in the 1967 College All-Star Game in Chicago.

Duranko later earn a Master’s degree from St. Francis College, Pennsylvania and later became a steel company executive after his playing days were over.

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