Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Even when he was afflicted by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s Disease), former Broncos starting DL Pete Duranko never stopped living.
He attended his high school reunion last week, and he was a national spokesman and fundraiser for ALS. According to his wife, Janet Duranko, she had never seen anybody fight as hard as her husband had.
On Friday, though, in his hometown of Johnstown, Pa., Duranko died at the age of 67.
"Pete was such a fighter," Janet, who was married to Duranko for 43 years, told the Denver Post. "… It was a blessing that he passed, because it was getting very hard at the end. He spent a lot of time over the last six months in hospice care."
Duranko -- who was athletic enough to walk across the practice field on his hands -- was an All-American in 1966, the same year his Notre Dame team won the national title. He then played in Denver for eight seasons and retired after the 1974 season.
In a 2003 interview with the Post, he said dying wasn’t the real thing that scared him about his disease. It was the disappearance of regular life.
"You know one of those little coffee creamers? It takes me an hour to open one of those things," Duranko said. "I look pretty strong up here in the shoulders, but my fingers, I have no strength here. I was in the hotel room trying to open that little ketchup bottle, you know with that annoying plastic around the top. You know, the one you get from room service? It takes me forever to open it, and the food gets cold. But I'll eat it anyway. So, yeah, I'll get mad, but then I finally laugh. I mean, what else am I going to do? … I’ll keep living every day.”
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