The Deep Cut is a companion piece to the Opponent Preview, in which I take a closer look at something related to the opponent, with a humorous slant.
MASCOT BREAKDOWN: THE DUCK
A note at the start: Oregon’s mascot is officially named The Duck, and not Puddles as so many would care to believe. Oregon did have a live-duck mascot named Puddles back in the 1920s, but when the current iteration came into being in the late 1940s, the Puddles name was dropped and the mascot was simply referred to as The Duck. Oregon has taken advantage of this discrepancy by occasionally selling Duck merchandise labeling the mascot as Puddles, but as of 2015:
According to two sources at Oregon who requested anonymity, so we’re going to call them senior associate athletic director Craig Pintens and assistant athletic director Andy McNamara: “The Duck is The Duck. Puddles was the name of a live Duck the student body paraded around in the early 20th century.”
So with that, let’s break down Not-Puddles.
Speed: Maybe Too Fast
I have watched this clip on a loop multiple times. It is one of the most mesmerizing things I have ever seen.
Seriously, what was the Duck thinking here? Was he given a bad cue? Doubtful, since the fireworks are going off. So I’m likely to think he took off at the same time as the team, but is just that much faster that he left them behind almost immediately. UCLA, and all other schools, should be thankful that the Duck has never lined up in the backfield, because he has an amazing ability to get up to top speed in a hurry.
Sneaking Ability: Ocean’s 11-esque
I’m actually on the fence here: either the Duck is a secret master thief who has been committing a series of high-end burglaries up and down the West Coast, or Oregon has some really shoddy security in place at their athletic complex. I’m leaning towards the latter, because costs had to be cut somewhere on that thing, but I can’t dismiss the former. After all, I can’t help but look at the Bling Ring and think that there was a real mastermind orchestrating those robberies behind the scenes
Dancing Ability: Surprisingly Agile
I’m so sorry for putting this song back into your life.
A few things stuck out for me here. One: The Duck has a fascinating hold over the student population of Oregon, to the point where entire groups of people willingly chose to take part in this. Not just the cheerleaders, who I assume were forced at gunpoint to hang out with the weirdo in this costume, but the guys on the pier, and ESPECIALLY the giant party on a second pier in the background. That’s some cult leader-type pull that the Duck holds up there.
Two: the Duck has not learned the lesson that all professional wrestlers learn: you always need to have someone hold the base of the ladder when attempting a giant move.
Fighting Ability: Ornery as Hell
LET’S GET AFTER IT SON.
That’s a good, clean mascot beatdown right there. Obviously, the video is edited, but from what I can tell, the biggest sin Houston’s mascot Shasta committed was choosing to exist at Autzen Stadium at that particular moment in time (fun fact: on the Shasta wikipedia page, there is a separate section titled “The Oregon Duck Incident” which is just fantastic). In either case, the Duck felt slighted, and reacted in a sane, logical manner; which is to say, the Duck proceeded to DROP AN ELBOW WHILE THE COUGAR WAS DOING PUSH-UPS, THEN PELVIC THRUST IN ITS FACE WHILE STANDING ON TOP OF HIM.
This incident took place in 2007, and in 2012 Houston brought back its live cougar mascot to supplement Shasta, which I assume only happened in order to provide Shasta some actual protection because the cheerleaders standing around him were helpless to stop the Duck’s onslaught.
Sanity Level: Unavailable at this time
There is a part of me that believes the Duck is just a collective fever dream that Oregon fans have convinced us is fine and normal. Don’t be fooled. The Duck lives on the border between insane and savant, and should never be underestimated.