Mark Duncan, a Denver-reared Hall of Fame inductee, has devoted over forty years to football. A star at Manual High School, Duncan became a three-year letterman as a guard for the University of Denver, and was twice named All-Conference.
Upon graduation in 1941, Duncan’s first job was as an assistant at Colorado College, moving to Denver University a year later to serve as head coach for one season. After serving in World War II, he returned to DU, and then moved with head coach Bob Davis to what is now Colorado State University.
In 1955, Duncan became assistant coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and after seven seasons with that club, he left to go into real estate for a year.
In 1964, Duncan was hired by National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Pete Rozelle, as Supervisor of Officials. With the implementation of the merger and reorganization of the league office in 1968, Duncan was given the added responsibility as NFL Director of Personnel. He spent ten years with the NFL in these positions. But, anxious to reenter the competitive aspects of football, he resigned to be named Director of Player Personnel for the Los Angeles Rams.
After two years with the Los Angeles Rams, Mark assumed the position of Assistant General Manager of the Seattle Seahawks in April of 1975. He is credited with the formation of the Seahawks’ scouting department, and he directed the planning and building of the club’s 20,000-square foot administrative and practice complex, regarded as one of the finest of its kind in the National Football League. Duncan helped build the Seahawks into one of the most successful expansion team in NFL history. Through the first three years of operation, the Seahawks set records for most victories in the second year of participation with five in 1977 and with most wins by a third year team with nine in 1978. The 1978 team finished with a 9-7 record and missed the playoffs by one game.
Being hired as an assistant coach by the San Francisco 49ers in 1955 is probably Duncan’s greatest moment in sports. “At the time, I was an assistant at Colorado State and I went on vacation in the Bay Area. I had been an area college scout for the 49ers on a part-time basis, so I dropped by their offices to say hello and found that Red Strader was reorganizing the 49ers’ coaching staff. The association I developed with the Morabito family (owners of the 49ers at that time) is one I will always remember.”
Another experience that sticks out as being especially memorable to Duncan was working with Commissioner Pete Rozelle. “It was quite an experience and it is just a shame that everyone in the NFL has not had the same opportunity. At the end of the 1962 season, I decided to retire from coaching and joined my brother-in-law in the real estate business. But after a year, I realized that I missed football and called Victor Morabito to inquire about any possible coaching jobs around the league. The next thing I knew, I had a call from Commissioner Rozelle offering me a job as Supervisor of Officials.”
When inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974 Duncan stated, “Having grown up in Colorado, it is indeed an honor that I will always cherish.”
It was quite an experience and it is just a shame that everyone in the NFL has not had the same opportunity.