Hi Gridiron Girls!
Since I’ve hopefully turned you all into football fans, you should know it’s time to start getting REALLY excited about the upcoming season! I know you are all trying to go camping, plant gardens and get a tan before the 10 months of Oregon gloomy weather, but this week your pre-season gridirongirl education begins 🙂 Starting Monday, I’ll be highlighting each of the football positions and the projected starters for those positions. As women, I think it’s easier for us to connect to the game if we can somehow connect to the players, so I’ve done my research and will give you plenty of information to help you pick your favorite player of the 2012-2013 season!
Before we get down to business though, focusing first on the Quarterback position, I thought it would be fun to get up close and personal with one of Oregon’s greatest former quarterbacks, Danny O’Neil! Earlier this week, I talked about “the moment” just after the center snaps the ball, and the Quarterback makes the first play of the drive. It’s in that moment that every fan anticipates what’s to come-either disappointment,or insane excitement and I was actually dying to know how that moment feels to actual players, especially the quarterback! So, with that Ladies, I introduce you to the 1995 Rose Bowl MVP, Danny O’Neil! Danny led the Ducks to its first Rose Bowl in decades and easily joins the ranks of the best Quarterbacks in Duck History! If anyone knows what “the moment” feels like, he certainly does, and he has graciously shared his personal football moments with us….
Me: “What was the best part about being an Oregon Duck Quarterback?”
Danny: “Well, I guess one of the best things is that it’s something that you’ve been thinking about and working toward for a long time. You feel like you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. You obviously have a lot of goals, but playing in college and getting a scholarship are big ones!”
Me: “So, in my last post, I was talking about this “moment”, just after the snap, when the quarterback gets the ball. From a quarterback’s perspective, what goes on in your head at that moment?”
Danny: “…Well, it’s funny because I never thought of it that way, but it is true, the game kind of relies on that moment. You know, as a quarterback, you know where everyone on your side is going so you’re not worried about that, but you’re looking at the defense. You are trying to see and feel where the defensive players are going. You can kind of see how they are lined up, and you know there are at least a few guys trying to get to you, but that is sort of in the back of your mind, that is why I say you sort of have to feel where things are. Honestly though, there is so much more emotion for the fans than the players who are playing because there is so much thinking going on-a lot of thinking going on. I suppose if you put those players in the stands though, they’d be nervous!”
Me: “That kind of leads me to my next question. I’ve always wondered how the quarterback seems to stay so calm during critical moments of the game. How did you stay so calm and poised during those most critical moments?”
Danny: “Well, like I said, it’s kind of a misconception. There is so much more stress watching the game versus playing it. When you are playing, you are more focused, and the more focused you are, the better you will do. If you can’t handle those moments, you probably wouldn’t be a quarterback. If you are there, you’ve probably proven in different ways, you can handle that kind of pressure. Basically, you are just in a different head space when you are playing the game so you just have to be focused.”
Me: “How did your faith help you as the leader of the team?”
Danny: “The best thing that faith does for players is that it gives you perspective. It helps calm them and you know, you realize football is not your whole identity.”
Me: “What was your most memorable moment of the 1995 Rose Bowl?”
Danny: “Well, there’s a lot that comes to mind, but basically it just emphasized what we had done as a team that year. Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind today is that we lost, but then the second thought is that we were PAC 10 Champs and we fought hard to get there!”
Me: “Last but not least, do you have a prediction about who the Ducks’ starting quarterback may be this year?”
Danny: “You know, I’m right there with everyone else. I always tell people the coaches really know the players the best. We could all guess, but the coaches are the ones there everyday, watching the practice, watching the film, you know. I think like everyone else last year, I was impressed when Bennett came out and I was looking forward to seeing him play more, but then again, here comes this other kid, Mariota and he’s great too. I’d be happy to see either one of them start. Ultimately one will start, and one will wait, that’s how it works!”
Me: “Thank you again Danny for answering all these questions for us! It’s been a pleasure!”