This is the first of a week-long series of posts sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
I guess I was born an Oregon Duck fan, as I didn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. My Dad grew up in Springfield, and he and my mom met at Oregon. After marrying and spending a few years in California, my parents returned to Oregon and my Dad purchased his first season ticket in 1988.
I went to my first Oregon game in 1991. I didn't quite know what I was getting into, but I remember getting up waaaay too early on a Saturday morning to drive down to Eugene (when you're 7, that's a big deal), parking in the Chevy Chase area, and walking to the stadium. It was quite a different experience of the Autzen of today. I still remember the final score from that game, as Oregon beat New Mexico State 29-6, and I remember Ronnie Harris returning a punt for a touchdown in that game, and from that point on, the indoctrination was on.
For the next 10 years, I would spend many Saturday afternoons and evenings in Autzen, over one of the best periods to be a Duck fan. Over that time period, the Ducks grew more successful, and Autzen started to become the Autzen we know today. There was plenty of success. Oregon went to it's first Rose Bowl in 37 years, they won 23 straight games at home, and had their best finish in school history. I graduated from high school in 2002, a few months after Oregon finished #2 in the nation and fresh off a Fiesta Bowl victory. Once you have a taste of that energy and excitement (and even heartbreak at times), it's not something that you can ignore or let go.
Despite going halfway across the country for school, my love of the Ducks didn't fade, if anything, it grew. When you're in a place without other Duck fans and without constant access to Oregon content, you have to get creative. I quickly became accustomed to listening to Jerry Allen over the internet, or staying up until 2 in the morning watching the Ducks on FSN (those were about the only games I could watch live from 2002-2005). And then in 2007 (after moving to Chicago), I stumbled upon a wonderful new blog called Addicted To Quack. It was a place for Duck fans to come together and talk about the Ducks in a way much different from the typical message boards of the day, and it's grown into the place we love today.
We're now living in the best time ever to be a Duck fan. Expectations are high but not at the level of a USC, Texas, Florida, or Ohio State. We watch the most exciting offense in the country on a weekly basis, and the defense is quickly catching up. We get to root for our team in one of the best stadiums in all of college football. No matter how you became a Duck, consider yourself blessed. I know I do.
Feel free to share your own story of how you became a Duck fan in the comment section below.