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Jim Doran

Jim Doran
No. 20, 83
Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1927-08-11)August 11, 1927
Date of death: June 30, 1994(1994-06-30) (aged 66)
Career information
College: Iowa State
NFL Draft: 1951 / Round: 5 / Pick: 55
Debuted in 1951
Last played in 1961
Career history

Career highlights and awards

Career NFL statistics
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Stats at

James Robert Doran (born August 11, 1927 in Beaver, Iowa) is a former American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions (1951–1959) and the Dallas Cowboys (1960–1961). He played college football at Iowa State University. He was a two-way player, playing both on offense and defense. He played 94 games as a defensive lineman, usually defensive end, and 115 games as a tight end. Injuries forced him to also become a tight end during Detroit's 1953 Championship season, and he scored from that position in the 1953 Championship game.[1] He was left unprotected in the 1960 NFL Expansion Draft, and Dallas drafted him. He was the Dallas Cowboys first Pro Bowl player.[2]

Early life

Because of the small size of Beaver High School, back then it had no football program, so he practiced basketball and baseball. His first exposure to the sport was at Buena Vista College in the fall of 1947, on the "B" team, joining after a short stint in the navy during World War II. He played defensive tackle despite being a relative lightweight at 175 pounds.

He transferred to Iowa State University in 1948, joining the track team as a sprinter and throwing the shot put. In 1949 he helped the team post a 5-3-1 record, the school's first winning football season in a span of 14 years, and being named to the all-Big Seven team at offensive end, with 689 yards on 34 catches, breaking the single-season Big Seven receiving mark by over 200 yards.

In 1949 Doran set a National Collegiate record against Oklahoma University by catching eight passes for 203 yards, a mark that remains unbroken in the Iowa State University record book. His 652 yards on 42 receptions and six touchdowns as a senior, earned him first-team All-America and all-Big Seven honors. He was the Cyclone's only football All-American in two decades, and more recently he was voted to the modern all-time all-Big Eight team. Doran closed out his Cyclone career owning virtually every Iowa State University and Big Seven receiving mark. He also played in the 1951 Hula Bowl and East–West Shrine Game.

In 1983 he was inducted into the Iowa High School Football Hall of Fame, despite never playing high school football. Doran was deemed an "outstanding example for the young men of the state of Iowa".

In 1997 he was inducted into the inaugural Iowa State University Athletics Hall of Fame.

In 2005 he was inducted into the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

Professional career

Detroit Lions

Doran was selected by the Detroit Lions in the 5th round of the 1951 NFL Draft and became a starter as a rookie, not as a pass receiver, but at defensive end.

In 1952 he was voted the most valuable player on a Lions team that won the 1952 NFL Championship Game. His team mates nicknamed him the Graham Cracker, because of his ferocious rushing of Otto Graham as a defensive end, in all of the Detroit-Cleveland games he played in.

During the 1953 season he started playing both offense and defense. The biggest play of his pro career occurred in the 1953 NFL Championship Game, when he caught a 33-yard touchdown pass, that pulled out a 17-16 victory. Doran remained playing the offensive end position and led the Lions in receiving in 1957.

After the 1959 season, because of his age, the Lions left him off their list of players who were exempt from the 1960 NFL Expansion Draft.

Dallas Cowboys

At 33 years of age, he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960 NFL Expansion Draft. Doran was converted to the tight end position, from where he led the team in receptions and yards, during its inaugural season, with 31 catches and 554 yards.

At the end of that first season, he had the distinction of becoming the Cowboys’ first Pro Bowl player in franchise history, and also scoring the Cowboys’ first touchdown in franchise history, a 75-yard pass from Eddie LeBaron against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 9/24/1960.

Doran started the franchise's legacy of Pro Bowl tight ends that includes: Dick Bielski, Lee Folkins, Mike Ditka, Billy Joe Dupree, Jackie Smith, Doug Cosbie, Jay Novacek and Jason Witten.

He was released after playing 2 seasons in Dallas and a total of 11 seasons in the NFL, compliling 212 receptions for 3,667 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Denver Broncos

On July 22, 1962, he signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos of the American Football League, but his season ended after injuring his back during a victory against the Dallas Texans on August 25.

Personal life

He joined his old Detroit Lions head coach, Buddy Parker, as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 1964 and 1965 seasons.

Leaving football after the 1965 NFL season, Doran returned to Iowa to farm. Doran died on June 29, 1994, of a heart attack.


External links

  • Iowa Sports Hall of Fame profile
  • Iowa State Hall of Fame profile
  • Jim Doran football card gallery
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