Why every Duck and Beaver's fan should care about Super Bowl LII
For many people in Oregon, Sunday's Super Bowl 52 is less than exciting.
A clash between the New England Patriots, who will be playing their eighth Super Bowl under quarterback Tom Brady, and the Philadelphia Eagles, who watched their season seemingly end when starting quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a knee injury in early December.
For the die-hard sports fan, there is a lot to be excited about when looking at this game. But for the average viewer, it could very easily be seen as an afternoon to take care of that growing "honey-do" list.
If you are fond of either the Oregon Ducks or Oregon State Beavers, however, there are some names that you might recognize on Sunday afternoon. The sight of an old fan-favorite might be enough to sway your rooting interest one way or another.
There are 6 players on either the Patriots or Eagles teams that were once members of the Ducks or Beavers. Here's a look at who's playing on Sunday:
LeGarrette Blount, Running Back No. 29 (Oregon)
Blount played under Mike Bellotti and Chip Kelly at the University of Oregon in 2008 and 2009. Despite being a ferocious runner who totaled 17 touchdowns in his first season, he is quite possibly one of the most infamous Oregon Ducks, known in history for his "punch heard round the world."
In short, Blount was suspended for the 2009 season after punching a Boise State player following a 19-8 opening season loss to the Broncos.
After teammates tried to escort Blount into the locker room, the 6-foot, 250-pound running back repeatedly confronted Boise State fans, attempting to break free from teammates and coaches who were holding him back.
In 2010, Blount went undrafted, but was later picked up by the San Francisco 49ers. Blount bounced around the league, playing for the Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots.
Blount was a part of the 2016 Patriot's team that won Super Bowl LI, coming back from a 28-3 third quarter deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. Blount finished with a league-high 18 touchdowns, but was later released by the Patriots and signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kenjon Barner, Running Back No. 38 (Oregon)
Barner played under Chip Kelly at Oregon from 2009-12, and was part of the "blur offense" that featured himself and LaMichael James.
Barner made Oregon history by becoming the first player since 1965 to score a rushing, receiving, and punt/kick return touchdown in the same game. Barner also set a rushing record for the Ducks in 2012, amassing 321 yards and five touchdowns vs. the USC Trojans.
In 2013, Barner was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the 6th round of the NFL Draft (182nd overall). He has played for the Panthers, Chargers and Eagles in his NFL career.
Joe Walker, Linebacker No. 59 (Eagles)
Walker led the Ducks in tackles in 2015, and was a dynamic part of the Oregon defense playing under Mark Helfrich.
Walker's most memorable play in an Oregon uniform came in 2014, when he returned Utah wide receiver Kaelin Clay's "fumble" 99-yards for an Oregon touchdown.
Walker was a member of the Oregon team that played for the Innaugural College Football Playoff Championship, losing to Ohio State, 42-20.
Walker went undrafted in 2016, but was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Isaac Seumalo, Guard No. 73 (Oregon State)
Seumalo became the first true freshman to start for Oregon State, and he appeared in all 13 games for the Beavers as a freshman in 2012.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Seumalo in the third round (79th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft.
New England Patriots:
Patrick Chung, Safety # 23 (Oregon)
Chung graduated from the University of Oregon in 2008, and was drafted by the Patriots in the second round in 2009. Chung was coached by Mike Bellotti, and he finished his career as a Duck holding the record for starting more games than any other defensive player at the University of Oregon, with 51-straight starts in his collegiate career.
Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver #14 (Oregon State)
Cooks played at Oregon State from 2011 to 2013. He played in all 12 games as a true freshman, and by the end of his career he was regarded as one of the most dynamic receivers in Beavers football history. In 2014, Cooks announced that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft, where he was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 20th overall pick.
In March of 2017, the New England Patriots traded a first-round pick for Cooks, who had rocketed onto the NFL scene with 20 total touchdowns in his first three years in the league.
In his one season with the Patriots so far, Cooks has racked up eight touchdowns, and is considered one of the main receiving-options for the defending Super Bowl Champions.