Most of the time when service men and women from the United States Armed Forces are honored by non-military organizations they are given trinkets and baubles that are nice, but maybe not all that practical.
The Oregon Ducks don’t believe in trinkets and baubles, and they don’t believe in just giving away things to those who fight for our country; no, they demand trade and give the shirts off their backs – well, at least jerseys off the backs of the football players.During the Ducks’ spring football game, they had a number of local military personnel come out on the field and lineup opposite a Ducks’ player.
In exchange for a military “challenge coin” each of the representatives received a special commemorative jersey that the player had just finished wearing in the 2012 spring football game.
How awesome is that? The jerseys had to stink to high heaven, but to have a one-of-a-kind gift like that is so cool.
As a brainchild of Head Coach Chip Kelly, the 2012 celebration marks the third year that the Ducks have chosen to honor those who serve in the military by inviting them to the spring game and giving them gifts.
There is a video of the exchange that can be found at http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/video-oregon-spring-game-honors-local-military-jersey-054509445.html.
The video directly below that one on the Yahoo blog made me tear up.
The University of Oregon Marching Band played the national anthem prior to the game and the drill team unfurled a facsimile of the American flag just before a couple of jets did a flyby.
Any patriotic scene, including a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, causes me to tear up just a little bit.
I don’t know why. There are plenty of people who are patriotic and dedicated to this great land of ours who can watch the same scene without getting emotional, but I can’t.
Following the game Kelly spoke to the military personnel while the team listened.
“This game was about you guys,” he said. “We have a chance to say thank you and that is all we’re going to do, is say thank you for what you’re doing in representing our country and making it possible for us to play this game.”
I think it is great that Oregon dedicates the spring game to the men and women who dedicate all or part of their lives to protect our America. Maybe that is why there were 44,000 people at the spring game.
According to columnist Graham Watson, that is more than the spring games of USC, Cal, Stanford, Washington and Arizona combined.
Imagine that: Ducks fans being crazy dedicated enough to come out for a spring game. It could have had something to do with the battle between Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota for the starting quarterback position, but I’d like to think that Oregon fans are in touch enough to come out because the team was honoring the military.
As far as the Bennett/Mariota drama goes, I see Mariota taking the position and Bennett serving as a backup and fourth-quarter-when-we’re-up-by-a-gazillion-points quarterback.
Both are truly qualified to lead the team, and maybe Bennett’s maturity will win him the spot, but I think Mariota has all the necessary tools in his Craftsman roll-around to take the Ducks to a National Championship bid.
No matter who gets the job, ... Go Ducks!