After a handing FSU its first loss in two seasons in a dominating fashion, the Oregon Ducks’ locker room became the stage for a jubilant celebration.
The Rose Bowl and “Granddaddy of Them All” served as the first ever College Football Playoff Semifinal and the Ducks played the role of America’s Team- outside of Tallahassee of course. On paper, Oregon looked primed to Win the Day, but as the college football world had learned, Jameis and Co. always seem to find a way to defeat the odds. Football fans everywhere tuned in to watch the Cinderella fairytale unfold. Could the team that has flooded the headlines with controversy somehow be derailed? Could the Ducks end the Seminole’s 29 straight game winning streak? Could they find a way to silence the remaining critics? Could they Win This Day?
Yes, as a matter of fact they could. And they did.
Fighting as a complete team, the Ducks found a way to dethrone the defending National Champs. They battled, just as they have all season, steadily staying in the game and then piling up the points- courtesy of several Seminole turnovers. Sure, there were some problems and at times it felt Jameis Winston might yet again pull out that magic want. But in the end, Oregon proved that nice guys finish first and humility prevails.
There will be analysis written and recaps from every which way, but in all that X’s and O’s chatter, what stood out the most was the pure joy on the faces of each and every Duck. Wounded Ducks stood midfield, happy for their team. Former Ducks rushed the field, cheering like I’d never seen before and current players rushed around looking for everyone and anyone to celebrate with. One player frantically searched for his family. “Where’s my Mom?” he asked, sporting his victory t-shirt and fresh rose.
Inside the Locker room, excitement, cheers and dance offs said it all. In the mix were reporters, myself included, trying to capture sound bites and celebratory images to somehow paint the picture of what this all meant- not to us, but to them. The bright-eyed smiles were infectious and the pride they were feeling was authentic and pure.
At one point, I asked the media representatives if there would be a formal press conference. “I don’t know, I mean what is there to ask?” He said with a smile. He was right. Instead of thinking of questions, I wanted to jump in on the dance off and congratulate the guys. For tonight, the words didn’t matter. The emotion and room full of pure green and yellow joy was the only headline that mattered.