Why do I have a feeling I've stolen Chad Gibbs' title? That Star Wars nerd...
Tomorrow, it's Duck season. This is my favorite time of the year, a time spent with friends with Otto's Sausage and pristinely-crafted fresh-hop harvest pale ales. Last year, the grill was flaming around 11 am, and I'd stand out on our balcony at Don's place overlooking Sellwood and breathing in the fading Oregon summer.
Ah, but now I'm in Phoenix, and I miss my friends and Otto's Sausage and Sellwood.
But maybe the change is good. Last time I was living outside Portland, in 2001, the Oregon Ducks finished their season with a Fiesta Bowl win and the #2 ranking in the nation.
Last year began the same way, with a restrained hope. I knew what the Ducks could be great, but isn't that what most sports fans believe when the season is laid out like a blank slab of butcher paper? Still, we had Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart, and some kind of crazy new offense.
And it all unfolded like some Shakespearean tragedy. Our offense was unstoppable. After a minor hiccup at home against Cal where the Ducks were inches from staying in it, Oregon caught fire.
Wazzou, the hated Huskies, the 9th-ranked Trojans and the 6th-ranked Sun Devils went down, carved neatly by Chip Kelly's blistering offense. The national media was a-twitter, and Duck fans were euphoric. There was no way to stop this offense. It was unbelievable. Dennis Dixon went down with an injury, but everything seemed fine...he'd take the week to rest and be back by Saturday to tear the Wildcats apart. With Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State left on the schedule, we were ranked second in the nation.
Then, in Tucson, after a brilliant series where he trotted untouched into the endzone, Dennis Dixon's knee folded, and everything fell apart, and it didn't come back together until the Sun Bowl against South Florida.
This is my sports life. I'd seen this happen with the Cubs (Bartman) and the Blazers (2001 Western Conference Championship against the Lakers). Only this hurt worse.
But, like I keep telling myself, it's a new year. So what if Nate Costa, Dixon's heir apparent, is already out for the season with another ACL tear (poor guy...sheesh)? That's not a bad omen, right? It's not like we haven't suffered injuries to every starting quarterback since Joey Harrington...
The hope is still there, though. Our defense is much improved, our secondary is one of the best in the country, DE Nick Reed is a sack monster, and Jeremiah Johnson was nearly as good as the departed Jonathan Stewart.
Most of all, there's Chip Kelly, the offensive coordinator, and that guy's a genius.
Oh, and Nike money. Lots and lots of Nike money.
Despite that, Go Ducks.