A Blast-from-the-Past! A Sprinting Spring Game…

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

This article was originally a forum post from over 13 years ago. I stumbled across it recently and thought you might have fun reading it, as I did, with the pleasant memory of our past beloved Ducks. Charles Fischer

Have you ever watched a game at Autzen and noted an official with a down marker sprinting down the sideline to get lined up before the play starts, or as the play is beginning? You’re thinking–what an idiot! Why didn’t he get there before the play began, and what was he doing…daydreaming? I’ve seen that a few times and wondered what the deal was?

At the Spring Game, I learned what it was all about, as Mr. FishDuck became the idiot. I was given the job of handling the down marker on the opposite side of the field as part of the Chain Gang. (FishDuck note: this took place in April of 2007!) On this day, it was the visitor’s bench side, or the side of the Oregon White team. Normally, I am not part of the Chain Gang for the Oregon Spring Game as, like games in the fall, they usually reward the best High School officials in the state with that honor.

I have been given the opportunity to be on the field during the scrimmages in the past, and for only the third time, the Spring Game. However, this was the first time on the down marker opposite the main Chain Gang, and my thanks to Tim Larson for arranging my participation and creating these great memories with the chain gang opportunities.

Being part of the Chain Crew or Chain Gang was usually reserved to the best High School officials in the state for Autzen games.

On fourth down, before the punt was about to take place…the official came to me and explained, “you wait until after the punt, after the ball has been downed, after the team has huddled, and as the offense approaches the line of scrimmage, the official behind the team will blow his whistle to start the 25 second clock. Then you run  to set up the down marker on the LOS.”

What? I asked him, “how are you supposed to do it when offenses often came directly from the sideline without huddling after a punt?” Usually they have the first play called in advance (like today) and step up to begin play immediately after the whistle has been blown. He said, “you’re the only one holding things up so you have to hustle!”

Oh Geez. I didn’t like the sound of that, and now I could quickly picture why those guys look so frantic trying to get down there in time. Well, the punt took off, the teams milled on and off the field. The other chain crews were down there and set up and I was by my lonesome and feeling agitated at the extreme other end of the field. I figured that if I timed it just right that I could get a head start early (against instructions) and take off and get there just as the official blew his whistle, hence I would be there and ready.

Studs on that 2007 team were Ed Dickson, Will Tukuafu, Walter Thurmond III, Nate Costa, and TJ Ward.

So I did that…and it worked wonderfully as I was set just in time for the play to begin. (The team came directly off the sideline and began play as the whistle was blowing) Everything was fine until the official came up and took his place in front of me. “You left early,” he said. “Do not do that again. Wait until the whistle is blown. Got it?” I nodded in intimidated embarrassment.

Things were a little chilly on the sideline among the officials and I, and my apprehension turned to outright fear when the punter booted a long one that ended up on the one yard line. To top it off they went into a TV timeout! Now I was worried—when they come out of the TV timeout the team will be at the line of scrimmage and the official will blow his whistle about three seconds before the ball is snapped. Meanwhile I had over fifty yards to cover in three seconds? I can’t do two strides in that time!

Hmmm. I was visualizing ‘Ol Fat-Boy chugging down the sideline, huffing and puffing, bumping into players and coaches while being very late to the play. To add to it–the timeout was going on forever and the tension was building up in me.

FishDuck is wondering how this “fat-boy” is going to get down the field for the next punt!

I decided, “the heck with it. I’m leaving a touch early because I have a ton of real estate to cover and this weight/vertically challenged has to get there in time.” I took off and after weaving through the sideline I got there barely on time as the play began. Whew. It’s not nice to make Fat-Boy run! Now the official lined up in front of me, and there was no comment. Nothing. Whew!

Then at the end of first down, he turned his head to the side without looking at me and announced, “You cheated. I saw you left early.” I gulped. (While this gig isn’t a big deal, I didn’t want to jeopardize it.) Then he gave me half smile and said, “well since it isn’t a real game…I won’t fire you.”

Now I could finally breathe, and I will now understand the spot the offside down official is in from now on. It is something to look for when you watch the game. I know I will! (FishDuck note: the replay of the game showed a glimpse of me chugging down the field and my father and friends had a good laugh!)

I was highly amused after I got home to watch the replay and could see myself four or five times on camera (for a second or two) because I was frequently in the foreground as they panned shots of the new Offensive Coordinator (Chip Kelly!) who was on our side. They showed him talking to the QBs often and once in awhile I was in the picture, unlike Spring Games in the past. On one glimpse late in the game…my daughter was walking through the room as I was replaying it. I said, “Hey, hey, look at this!”

Dennis Dixon was on that bench as this screenshot shows him carving up Washington.

Now keep in mind my barely teenage daughter had no interest in the Ducks, football, or anything sports. She has no idea where I go, what I do on game day or with these scrimmages, etc. So I rewound the clip and she watched as they showed the quarterbacks sitting on the bench with the official and I in the foreground. It was a good three second camera shot, and I didn’t know the camera was on me so I reached up and brushed or scratched my nose and it was certainly in the shot.

She turned on her heels snubbed her nose and as she left she said, “well at least they didn’t catch you picking your butt!” I couldn’t believe it! That came from my sweet little 13 year old? And she delivered it so straight-faced! After I was done laughing, I told her that if I wanted that much disrespect…I’d talk to my Duck-Buddy Ducklar!

While these stories are a little silly—they are two more bricks for me in the Great Wall of Memories of My Beloved Ducks. No shortages here of ways to stay humble!

“Oh how I treasure the memories of Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by GoDucks.com


Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.

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