They Spit Hot Fire: The Five Greatest Ducks of All-Time

The Greatest Duck Of All-Time: Not Dylan

The Internet has spoken: the best, nay ONLY, way to discuss anything is a list. Seriously. Any topic of worth is worthy of a list. Everyone, even the Grey Lady herself, knows that lists neither leave anything out nor stoke the flames of good-hearted trolls. College football has been a trendsetter in the list-making world, with its first definitive annual list of the greatest football teams appearing in 1936.

So, in the spirit of Cracked, BuzzFeed, and our own Austin Willhoft, I present an extremely objective list of the Five Greatest Ducks of All Time, in no particular order.

  1. Marcus Mariota
OG Mario

via commons.wikimedia.org

OG Mario

I could probably stop the list here and just say that the Five Greatest Ducks of All Time are Mariota, Mariota, Mariota, Mariota, and Mariota. (Sorry Dylan, your fire ain’t that hot.) However, tradition, as well as a desire to keep the doors of the Temple of Janus closed, prevents me from ending here.

To wit: Mariota has the best nickname in the history of sports nicknames, Super Mariota. I am a lover of video games. One of my earliest memories involves convincing my parents that Mario does not have a limited supply of fireballs. As any good millennial knows, Mario is the capo di tutti capi of video game characters. So, it is only fitting that the University of Oregon’s QB optimus maximus shares his nick-nomenclature with the eponymous Mario.

Also contributing to Zeus’s Mariota’s inclusion on this list: his incredible backstory. Right next to Luke Skywalker and Odysseus, Mariota’s story, his rise from objective anonymity (two scholarship offers out of high school) to subjective greatness, deserves a bust in the Joseph Campbell Hall of Fame. I can say this unreservedly: Marcus Mariota is the Horatio Alger of college football.

I need not mention his gridiron feats of strength: neither his efficiency, nor his touchdown to interception ratio, nor that he is one of three college football players to finish with more than 10,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards. An Ohio state university might have put a damper on the end of Mariota’s career, but like Yogi Berra said, “even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

  1. Phil Knight, Bill Bowerman, and Bill Bowerman’s wife’s waffle maker

I can feel the eye rolls from here. But without them, there would have never been the Joey Heisman Billboard. The uniforms would be pictured in the football dictionary next to the phrase, “the blind side.” The Blur Offense would describe the tearful haziness unleashed upon watching the Ducks offense.

The Man

Gary Breedlove

The Man

Yes, Phil Knight has given the University of Oregon Athletics Department a lot of money, leading to the moderately creative ”Nike U” title. But T. Boone Pickens, oil tycoon extraordinaire, has given even more money to Oklahoma State University, yet OSU is not popularly referred to as “Oil Tycoon U.”

And without Bill Bowerman, Nike, née Blue Ribbon Athletics, would never have been a thing.

But most importantly, without Bill Bowerman’s wife’s wafflemaker, the Nike Cortez would not have been created, and I would not be writing this column.

  1. Onterrio Smith

Because he taught all future Ducks, notwithstanding Cliff Harris, what is not proper carry-on luggage.

Awesome

Gary Breedlove

Awesome

4a. Puddles

4b. Motorcycle Man

Everyone loves Puddles, as they should. He’s cute, funny for a mascot, good at eating Tostitos, and bears a poignant, even direct, relationship to the team name (unlike this monstrosity).

Gross

John Giustina

Gross

One could even make the argument that he is the Dylan of the Greatest Duck of All-Time because of this. Anything that keeps Mandrake, aka Robo-Duck, from becoming THE Oregon Duck deserves the love and affection of both football and futbol fans everywhere.

As a pretend Harley enthusiast, the motorcyclist, the man responsible for one of the most thrilling pregame traditions deserves consideration for a spot in the Greatest Ducks of All-Time pantheon. Bo Pelini’s cat is a pretty sweet mascot, but motorcycle roar beats kitty meow every time.

In all honesty, mascot rankings are more Grantland’s Zach Lowe’s bag than mine. But I think all can agree that anything, including nothing, would be a better mascot than Dr. Moreau’s version of Darkwing Duck.

  1. Kenny Wheaton’s Hands

Without those, there would never have been this:

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

Print Friendly

 Volunteer Position Openings:

--Media Management/Supervisor:  We are looking for someone beyond college age who can help manage students and mentor in a number of different departments. Expertise is not required as organizational skills and interest in guiding others.   --Assistant Football Analyst: Love college football and enjoy watching it for hours? We need associates to view games and find the techniques/teaching points we identify for them in advance.  You will be recognized in publications, and could have the opportunity to move to full Analyst.   --College Football Analyst: We are looking for Coaches, or retired coaches to help create analysis videos (we do the video part) that will be viewed by thousands, and will help young football players as well as fans understand the game much better. The national recognition will help your resume' as well as make an impact upon the game we all dearly love.   --Video Specialist: We are looking for help in the Eugene/Springfield area to assist with the shooting and editing of analysis videos.   All Positions: Send a resume' with full contact information and any writing samples you have to charles@fishduck.com  Again, these are volunteer positions donating five hours a week each.

Graham Berry

Graham Berry

Graham Berry (Editor and Writer) is a former Lincoln High (Portland) Cardinal and current tax attorney. He decided that contributing to FishDuck.com as an editor and writer would allow him to tick off one of his New Year’s resolutions and volunteer his time for the greater good. Predictably, Graham enjoys all things sports-related, particularly beer and ill-formed opinions. He currently resides in Seattle with his wife and two cats. Follow him on Twitter: @GrahamRBerry.

  • Brian Libby

    This is a fun read and well done. I’d also enjoy a serious discussion sometime about the top 5 Duck football players. My first guess would be (1) Marcus Mariota, (2) Joey Harrington, (3) Mel Renfro, (4) Dan Fouts, and (5) Norm Van Brocklin. But it depends on whether or how much one takes future NFL careers into account. Fouts is probably the greatest in terms of post-Oregon careers, or possibly Renfro. But the teams Fouts played for didn’t amount to much. On the other hand, Bill Musgrave did nothing in the pros but quarterbacked Oregon’s initial rise into a winning program. I easily could have him in my top 5. One could also argue for players like LaMichael James, Dennis Dixon or Ahmad Rashad.

    • berrygraham

      Thanks Brian. I would probably say that the actual top 5 players are, in some order, Van Brocklin (2x NFL champ, 3x NFL Passing Leader, 2x NFL Punting Leader, only QB to be Lombardi in the playoffs), Gary Zimmerman (8x All-Pro, 1 Super Bowl ring, All-Decade team for both the ’80s and ’90s, Note: Marshawn Lynch should be called Gary Zimmerman 2.0 for his refusal to interact with media, a ban which he then imposed on all Bronco lineman until he retired), Ngata (1 Super Bowl ring, 5x All-Pro), Mariota (He’s awesome), and Renfro (2 Super Bowl rings, 5x All-Pro, Probably All-Time Best Oregon-born athlete, broke the color barrier at Rice Stadium when his family came to see him play).

      Of course, I could be way off. I mean, pretty much named the Whizzinator one of the 5 Greatest Ducks Of All-Time.

      • maddog48

        Actually, Renfro was born in Houston, Texas.

        • berrygraham

          My bad. Best Oregon high school athlete then.

      • Brian Libby

        I took your article as a satire of top-5 and top-10 lists, and thus the Whizzinator was an inspired choice.

        As for the real list of top 5 Ducks of all time, I think one has to decide if it’s a list of the Ducks who did the most for Oregon or the ones who have the greatest overall legacy including the NFL. If NFL experience is key, you can’t top Van Brocklin, Fouts and Renfro, with Ngata, Zimmerman, Rashad and Dave Wilcox all figuring in as well. But more interesting in my mind is the list of greatest Ducks in terms of their careers solely at Oregon. Hence Joey Harrington and Bill Musgrave being high on the list in my previous comment.

        • berrygraham

          I think if you’re going to try to define the greatest players, you have to look at the entirety of their careers. But solely looking at their college career is a little harder, especially when comparing present and past players. Players leave school earlier today, the game is played differently, and the seasons are longer. That’s why I think one has to look at the entirety of a player’s career.

          • Brian Libby

            That’s a completely valid point of view to include their NFL careers as part of the criteria. It’s part of each player’s story and largely decides how famous they are to the rest of the world. Even so, if we’re talking about the greatest Ducks, in some cases what a player did in the NFL is much more impressive than what they did at Oregon, such as Dan Fouts. As an NFL player, Fouts was of course a Hall of Famer. But did Fouts accomplish more at Oregon than Joey Harrington, who had a dismal NFL career but led the Ducks to their first January bowl win since 1916? I’d rank Joey ahead of Fouts in terms of all-time Ducks simply because Oregon did so much more when Harrington was quarterback.