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Notre Dame Football: Former Irish Star Mirko Jurkovic Dies at 42

Head coach Lou Holtz with the 1988 championship team
Head coach Lou Holtz with the 1988 championship teamJonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Emily O'Neill ElmerCorrespondent IIJanuary 9, 2013

Former Notre Dame star Mirko Jurkovic passed away Wednesday from complications due to colon cancer. He was 42. Jurkovic was on the 1988 national championship team and a consensus All-American lineman. 

David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune tweeted his condolences earlier: 

 

Condolences to family of Mirko Jurkovic, charismatic former ND captain and brother of @jurko64 who died after long fight with colon cancer.

— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) January 10, 2013

 

Jurkovic grew up in Calumet City, Ill., where he attended Thornton Fraction North High School and was all-state before heading to Notre Dame.

While at Notre Dame, Jurkovic won four letters, playing backup defensive tackle as a freshman and then moving to guard for the remainder of his time with the Irish. Jurkovic also played on teams that won the 1989 Orange Bowl and 1991 Sugar Bowl.  In his senior year he was an All-American and captain, and was named Notre Dame Lineman of the Year by the Moose Krause chapter of the National Football Foundation in 1991 according to ESPN Chicago. He graduated with a degree in marketing from the College of Business Administration.

After his successful college football career, Jurkovic was a ninth-round draft pick for the Chicago Bears in 1992. 

According to Dan Pompei of the Chicago TribuneJurkovic said, “This is hard to put into words," the day he was drafted to the team he had grown up rooting for. 

Unfortunately, he injured his knee before the season began and spent his rookie season on injured reserve, never playing in the NFL.

Mirko was introduced to a new generation of Irish fans when he became the postgame radio host for Notre Dame games on ESPN Chicago's WMVP-AM 1000, where his brother, John “Jurko” is a regular host. He also provided analysis of Notre Dame football for UND.com. 

Jurkovic was due to meet former Notre Dame center Gene McGuire at the BCS National Championship Game, but was not well enough to make the journey to Miami. McGuire spoke highly of Mirko to Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune, saying, “He never even got into fights at practice because everybody liked Mirko.''

A fan to the end, Jurkovic identified Notre Dame's ability to handle the Alabama offensive line as the key to victory in the championship game in a video posted to YouTube by UND.com

He is survived by his wife, Angie, and their three children, Mirko, Claire and Samantha. Donations to the Mirko Jurkovic Memorial Fund can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.

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