Tomorrow afternoon the Ducks will face the Colorado Buffaloes in a their final home game of the season. Despite it being a lop sided (on paper) match up, there are plenty of things to keep your attention as the Oregon seniors are celebrated one last time in Autzen. We’ll get to those later, but first. . .we have to get to something out the way. Something, we at gridirongirl, have dreaded all year- facing the likely fact this might be the last time Marcus Mariota plays in Autzen.
It’s no secret, I’m a huge Marcus Mariota fan and always will be. So much in fact, I may have lost my Ducks fan mind this week following a press conference with Marcus. Walking out with a fellow reporter, I found myself uttering these words: “You know, honestly at this point, I don’t care about the rankings, winning or whatever. I just want Marcus to stay healthy and make it out of here 100% ready for the NFL. He deserves it and nothing else matters.”
It’s hard to explain, but I know I’m not alone. Anyone who has met Marcus likely feels the same way. He’s one of the nicest, most humble guys out there and I’ve only had to talk to him a couple of times to figure that out. As I’ve written about a bazillion times, Marcus has stolen the hearts of Ducks fans everywhere and led them, and more importantly, his team, on a very fun journey. He’s shattered records and helped keep the nation talking about the Ducks over and over again. Yet, he’d never take the credit and in fact, would probably be mad if you forced him to.
As the season enters its home stretch however, many awards and accolades are sure to head Marcus’ way. The first of those final accolades will and should begin tomorrow as Marcus plays what is expected to be his final game in Autzen Stadium. Though he hasn’t talked about when he’ll enter the draft, all signs indicate he will do so this Spring, and just in case, Ducks fans will make sure he knows he is loved.
At some point, if the game goes as anticipated, the Ducks will have a sizeable lead and Marcus will be relieved of his QB duties and replaced by his back up, Jeff Lockie. That moment will be bittersweet and like many in that 60,000 person crowd, I will smile and quite possibly need some tissues. There will be both tears of joy and pride for a guy who deserves it all but takes none of it for granted. A guy who has unknowingly helped me along in my own journey and touched so many more here in Eugene- fans both big and small, friends, coaches, and of course . . .his teammates.
This past summer, I had a chance to sit down with Marcus and among the many things we talked about, was what he’d like to be remembered for at the University of Oregon. “I deep down believe you want to be a good teammate,” Marcus said.
“On and off the field. whatever you do on the field it is what it is . I think the best thing that someone can say of you is that you’re a great teammate. For me, that’s my main goal. For me, the legacy, someone else will be behind me that will break all the records and do all that types of stuff. For me, I just want to be remembered as some guy that people could look to and trust and find confidence in.”
Consider that Legacy left . . .and then some.