EUGENE, Ore. — Some Duck fans might not want to remember the years before the BCS game or last year’s Rose Bowl win, but the football team has a rich history dating back decades before Chip Kelly and Mike Belotti.
Jerry Thompson is the sports editor at the Cottage Grove Sentinel. But he was a Duck fan long before he took that job–such a fan that he spent the last quarter century chronicling the football team in what he calls a one-of-a-kind DVD.
“Well the story started actually in 1958,” Thompson said. That’s when Thompson became a Duck fan.
He and his family went to see Oregon play in the Rose Bowl that year, just one of hundreds of Oregon games Thompson now has under his belt. He attended the university, became student manager of the football team during the Dan Fouts era, and shortly after graduation, Thompson got an idea.
“After I got my degree in film and video, I thought, I’d like to see all these players and these games, and even the games I didn’t see,” Thompson said.
That was in 1987. Thompson spent the next 25 years traveling, calling and gathering every piece of video he could get his hands on. Most of it wasn’t just sitting in the Oregon Athletics Office waiting for him.
“Aquiring this video was like a history detective type project for me, and getting the footage from Air Force and the Army and Illinois, and all over. I mean, there’s almost every game from every year starting in about the 1950s,” Thompson said.
Thompson wanted more than just highlights. He wanted history, and he got it by interviewing more than 70 different Ducks.
“Many of these great players like ‘Iron Mike’ Mikulak, Bill Bowerman played football at Oregon and coached here, George Shaw, all these great people have passed away, but we have them on this video. You have Mike Belotti and Haloti Ngata’s mom lost cell service and she was trying to tell him that Haloti was going to go to Oregon, and Mel Renfro actually wanted to go to Oregon State, but his parents talked him into Oregon,” Thompson said.
Thompson says it’s been a labor of love–emphasis on the labor–but one he’s proud of and can’t wait to share with all the other die-hard Duck fans out there.
Thompson’s four-DVD set begins with the 1917 season and follows the team all the way through 2012. It is for sale online. Click here for more information.