The mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of former NFL player Jim Duncan are the subject of a new narrative podcast series courtesy of iHeartMedia and independent media company McClatchy.
Return Man, an eight-part documentary series, serves as the first season of the new character-driven audio anthology, “Longshot,” which explores the intersection of sports and social change.
Duncan, who was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in 1968, nearly two decades before the team relocated to Indianapolis, was a star kickoff return man and defensive back in the NFL who played an integral role in the Colts’ Super Bowl title in 1971. But on the morning of October 20, 1972, according to the official account of his death, he entered a police station in Lancaster, S.C., and without saying a single word, grabbed an officer’s revolver from its holster and shot himself in the head. In the decades since, both his family and community have struggled to make sense of what transpired that fateful day.
Return Man is based on the reporting of Bret McCormick, former sports editor for McClatchy’s Rock Hill, S.C. news outlet, The Herald. He also serves as the podcast’s narrator.
“Even though he died nearly 50 years ago, Duncan’s death and the events that followed remain relevant in light of current events,” McCormick said in a statement provided to The Root. “Officials seemed to wall off any hope of finding out exactly what happened on that day. And for decades, the remarkable life and perplexing death of Lancaster’s only Super Bowl champion has been almost completely erased from the town’s history.”
Of additional note, there were never any charges of wrongdoing.
“The depth of reporting presented in Return Man is what makes this podcast and ‘Longshot’ series so powerful,” Kristin Roberts, McClatchy’s Senior Vice President of News, said in a statement provided to The Root. “The listener hears directly from Mr. Duncan’s family, his coaches and his neighbors. We hear their voices tell the stories of his life. And through them, we take a journey that grapples with the great unanswered questions surrounding the death of a man who was both local hero and a national athlete. We look forward to working with iHeartMedia to bring this important local story to listeners nationwide.”
Return Man is available on the iHeartRadio app.