Memories of Colorado Games, Past and Present

Mitchell intercepts the ball

It was just a hit, only a hit. On September 15, 1984, two teams on the rise – Oregon and Colorado – met at Autzen Stadium. In the third quarter, Buffalo TE Ed Reinhardt caught a pass over the middle, rumbled 19 yards for a first down and went down after banging into two Oregon linebackers.

Ed Reinhardt in 2012

Denver Post

Ed Reinhardt in 2012

Even though the hit looked routine from the stands, Reinhardt lay on the turf for a couple of minutes before stumbling off the field. Five minutes later, he collapsed and was removed from the field on a stretcher. At the hospital, Dr. Arthur Hockey, the neurosurgeon who operated on Reinhardt said, “His prognosis is uncertain. He still could not survive.” After several weeks in a coma, Reinhardt survived. Now at 47, his right side remains paralyzed, he walks with a limp and speaks in short sentences. Oregon won that day, but the result was secondary to the impact on a young man’s life.

Fast forward to January 1, 2002 — the Fiesta Bowl; in a surreal moment I spied a young man, a Golden Buffalo fan, carrying a placard that read “Mike Bellotti is a c********r” up the ramp to Sun Devil Stadium. I still can’t imagine what Bellotti did to earn that much hatred. Colorado was third in the BCS rankings, and Oregon fourth, but many pundits said Oregon should have been playing Miami for the BCS Championship. Instead, Colorado was our consolation prize. It was a tight game in the beginning and the Buffs scored first. They were the Big 12 bullies and their fans hooted and pointed at us. “No chance,” they yelled. “You ain’t got no chance.” Ah, but this was the Ducks’ day. By the third quarter the contest was out of reach. The highlight of the game was a run by Maurice Morris when he rolled over a defender and without touching knee or elbow to the turf, regained his feet and sprinted 49 yards to the end zone. Oregon crushed Colorado 38-16. Take that, east coast bias.

Now, Oregon faces Colorado again. Oregon is the top dog and Colorado struggles for respectability. For Oregon, though, this is a make or break game. If they want to play for a National Championship, the Ducks must not stumble — not once. Colorado’s defense may be 103rd in the nation, but the Ducks cannot afford to take any team lightly. Look at what the Beavers did to the sixth-ranked Sun Devils. The Duck mantra must be “survive and advance.” Let’s hope this game becomes a good memory for the Ducks.

Top Photo by Oregon Daily Emerald

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Michael Bigham

Michael Bigham

Raised in the Central Oregon mill town of Prineville beneath deep blue skies and rim rock, I attended the University of Oregon and during my collegiate summers, I worked in a lumber mill and also fought range fires on the Oregon High Desert for the Bureau of Land Management. After graduating from college at the University of Oregon, I swung from being budding hippy to cop work. I’m still wondering about how that came about. I was a police officer with the Port of Portland and after leaving police work, I obtained an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College. I live in Portland, Oregon with my wife, my daughter and a spunky bichon frise named Pumpkin. I’ve had short stories publishing in two Main Street Press anthologies. Harkness is my first novel.

  • maddog48

    Is this what now passes for a history article on Fishduck? I think many of us know the story of Ed Reinhardt’s injury. There was no mention of the younger brother later playing for Oregon.

    The bigger issue is that this is a series that goes back to 1955. Oregon and Colorado played home and home games in 1955-1956, 1967-68, 1978-1979, 1984-1985, and 1986-1987. Oregon won five of those games and lost five. There were certainly other interesting stories about those games to by told.

    Significantly missing was the Cotton Bowl game at the end of the 1995 season, and the villain Rick Neuheisel.

    • FishDuck

      Hello Jim,

      We have two different types of articles now….the longer feature articles of which you will still see some history articles by Joey Holland, and the new Sports News Team articles by a new team of ten writers and editors at

      The purpose is to give quick easy reads from these articles so that those who do not prefer the longer articles now have options. The result is that our visits have shot up due to a new audience that we did not have in the past.

      Again…the longer featured articles of the past continue to be published on the days they were before, but the new shorter ones are also available to readers. We went from two articles per day to where today we published EIGHT articles.

      And they are well written, edited by a day-time editor, and prepared and ready with pictures and references by the writers. We now have reporters at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex recording interviews along with the rest of the media….

      Thanks for reading and writing.