Some of these columns get more difficult to write with each passing day.
Today my prayers are with the family of Randy Duncan.
Duncan was a 79-year-old Des Moines man who died yesterday after courageously battling brain cancer for many years.
He was a friend of mine and he was one of the best football players in the long, rich football history at the University of Iowa.
Duncan was a strong contributor to the first of my three "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines" books that chronicled the Hawkeyes' football history.
While interviewing him for the book, Duncan told me how he almost quit the team in his sophomore season.
In retrospect, it's a good thing he didn't quit.
Hearst Randolph "Randy" Duncan went on to become an all-American while playing quarterback on the 1958 team that remains the best in Hawkeye history.
This is part of what I wrote on page 121 in the book:
"Bump Elliott, the backfield coach, recruited me [to play at Iowa]," Duncan said. "He was a good guy. He was the only reason I went to Iowa.
"Head coach Forest Evashevski was a mean SOB. He constantly berated me and was on my back. I was thinking about quitting. I went to Bump and said, 'Bump, I don't know if I can take this anymore. This guy is on my back all the time. He never lets up.'
"Bump said, 'I'll tell you something, Randy. When he gets off your back is when you should start worrying.'"
Fortunately for himself and fortunately for Iowa's football program, Duncan remained a Hawkeye and quarterbacked the 1958 team to an 8-1-1 record, the Big Ten championship and a 38-12 victory over California in the Rose Bowl.
Duncan performed so well as a Hawkeye that he was the first player selected in the 1959 National Football League draft by the Green Bay Packers.
Instead of going to the NFL, Duncan played in the Canadian Football League.
Following his football career, Duncan earned a law degree from Drake University, and practiced law in Des Moines until his retirement.
I'll miss him a lot.