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Iowa's first overall No. 1 NFL draft selection

Hawkeye History

Issue date: 4/23/04 Section: Sports
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As the April 24 NFL draft approaches, Outland Trophy winner Robert Gallery could become the No. 1 overall pick. If Gallery is drafted by the San Diego Chargers, assuming there is no trade, he will become only the second Hawkeye ever drafted as the first overall selection. Gallery could also become only the third offensive lineman ever drafted as the No. 1 pick in NFL draft history (Minnesota selected Ron Yary in 1968 while St. Louis chose Orlando Pace in 1997).

This weekend will serve as a reminder to Hawkeye fans who reminisce about Iowa's trip to the 1959 Rose Bowl, in which the Hawkeyes defeated California, 38-12, and was voted No. 1 in the nation by the Football Writers Association. Iowa was led by Heisman Trophy-finalist Randy Duncan.

Duncan's illustrious career at Iowa came with a great deal of accolades. Along with nearly becoming the Hawkeyes second ever Heisman Trophy winner, the Osage, Iowa, native was a first team All-American, the Big Ten MVP, and the Walter Camp Trophy recipient.

The quarterback's legendary career at Iowa propelled him to the No. 1 overall spot in the 1959 NFL draft. The Heisman Trophy runner-up was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and joined Notre Dame's Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung to become the second No. 1 overall selection by the Packers from 1957-59.

However, Duncan turned down Green Bay's base offer of a $15,000 salary and a $2,500 signing bonus. The six-foot, 180-pound Duncan decided to make a voyage to the land of the Canucks and signed a contract with the British Columbia Lions. Duncan's Canadian Football League journey began with a $17,000 salary and a $4,000 signing bonus.

"In retrospect, I should have gone to the NFL," said Duncan on April 4, 1976, in the Des Moines Register, "but that was Green Bay before Vince Lombardi - and Canada offered a lot more dough."

After a two-year stay in the CFL, he saw an opportunity in the AFL and signed with the Dallas Texans, now known as the Kansas City Chiefs. While in Dallas, Duncan was able to earn a living playing professional football in America and taking law classes at Southern Methodist University.

During the 1961 season with the Texans, he competed in 14 games and passed for 361 yards, a touchdown, and three interceptions. He also ran five times for a total of 42 yards. Duncan decided to retire and finished up his academics at Drake University after quarterback Len Dawson, one of the most accurate quarterbacks in professional football history, was traded to the Texans.

- by Ryan Long
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