Oregon’s Own Fabulous-Four NFL Stars

OregonReigns Editorials

The Pac-12 has always been known for churning out talent on the gridiron, and the school based in Eugene has also produced its fair share of stars.

The University of Oregon has been a steppingstone for many players that would go on to star in professional football, dating back to the early days of the sport in the 1940’s. That foundation has allowed the program to remain relevant throughout the decades as a school that brings out the best in young men. Some players such as Jed Weaver, Patrick Johnson, Patrick Chung and Max Unger, are among many Oregon Ducks to excel at their football careers, and now wear a Super Bowl ring. And while certain fans of the pro game are already thinking about Super Bowl odds, NFL props, and futures, Ducks fans are thinking about how their players will improve during the spring and summer to maximize their success.

Since there’s time to take a stroll down memory lane, we will look back at four Ducks who made a name for themselves in the NFL.

Ahmad Rashad

For fans of a younger generation, seeing Ahmad Rashad’s name in an article about football might seem like a mistake. After all, his brand for the last 35 years or so has been cozying up to NBA players to establish relationships that have withstood the test of time. Before Rashad was front and center on basketball telecasts, he was a dynamic wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.

Born Bobby Moore, he was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972. He would go on to spend two seasons there, and then one season for the Buffalo Bills, before missing the entire 1975 campaign with a knee injury. The trajectory of his career would completely change when he suited up for the Vikings in 1976.

In seven years with Minnesota, Rashad would go on to make the Pro Bowl in four of those years. His best season came in 1979, when he caught 80 passes for 1,156 yards and nine touchdowns. He had a bit of an unusual career in the sense that he made his first Pro Bowl at age 29, but it goes to show that excellence can take time to develop.

Dan Fouts became an NFL hall of fame playing for the San Diego Chargers.

Dan Fouts

There are different ways to get fans excited about a quarterback, but the most traditional method is to have that player push the ball down the field aggressively. That’s exactly what former San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts did throughout his 15-year career, as he captained some of the most enjoyable offenses in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Like Rashad’s time in the NFL, Fouts’ career initially didn’t get off to the most promising of starts.

He wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard in the first few years of his Chargers career, but something clicked in 1978. He would go on a special four-year run, and post numbers reminiscent of those we see in today’s game. Fouts was in the MVP discussion in each of those years, and won Offensive Player of the Year in 1982.

Although he never appeared in a Super Bowl, Fouts did lead the Chargers to one playoff win in each season from 1980-1982. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. It’s fair to say his style of play helped pave the way for future generations of passers.

Haloti Ngata

Every great defense has one or two selfless players who sacrifice statistics and individual accolades for the good of the team. To be clear, Haloti Ngata was still recognized as a tremendous player, as evidenced by his five Pro Bowl nods and two All-Pro nominations. However, his impact went far beyond the numbers he amassed throughout his NFL career.

Simply put, Ngata was a winning player. With his massive 6’4”, 340 pound frame, he would absorb multiple blocks, and throw offensive linemen around like rag dolls. Teams had no choice but to pay attention to him, otherwise he was a sure bet to blow up a play at the center of the line of scrimmage.

Haloti Ngata, No. 96, was un-blockable!

Teaming up with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Ngata was an integral part of some memorable Baltimore Ravens defenses in the 2000’s. Ngata won a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens in 2012, when he was still very much in the prime of his career. He finished his career with 32.5 sacks and 517 total tackles.

Justin Herbert

As Ducks fans hope for the program to bounce back in a meaningful way in 2023, Justin Herbert and his Los Angeles Chargers are hoping to recover from a difficult loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in last year’s Wild Card round. Even with the less than ideal result, Herbert has been a rising star in the NFL since he was pressed into duty in Week 2 of his rookie season. A lot of his story has yet to be written, but the introduction has been nothing short of sensational.

He wasn’t expected to play much in 2020, but Herbert surprised everyone by winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. He would ratchet things up again in year two, throwing a career high 38 touchdown passes and eclipsing 5,000 yards passing in a season. In year three, Herbert dealt with injuries to his ribs, as well as ailments affecting his receivers, but still had a solid campaign.

We never knew Justin Herbert was one of the best QBs on the planet while at Oregon.

It’s pretty ironic that the Chargers have found another Oregon quarterback as their answer under center, and Herbert can only hope that he one day makes the Hall of Fame, like Fouts. It seems like Herbert is going to have the opportunity to put up some special numbers, but he, like other great quarterbacks, will be judged on how well he does in the postseason. He will look to win his first playoff game next season.

This is a group of NFL stars from Oregon that stir great memories of their time in Eugene, and beyond.

Lakeside, Oregon
Top Photo Courtesy of Baltimore Ravens Twitter

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