New lids give Ducks new look
By Bob Clark
Published: Friday, December 15, 2006
In what would have otherwise been a routine return to practice Thursday, about half of the Oregon players donned new helmets in a preview of what the Ducks might look like in the Las Vegas Bowl in a week.
And what a look it was, and could be next week.
"You never know with us," offensive coordinator Gary Crowton said. "It's exciting if the players like it and if they like it, that's what it's all about."
Except, most of the Ducks who were interviewed weren't quite sure what to say about their new headgear, which had originally been expected to arrive for use in the regular season.
Was it worth the wait?
"They're interesting," offered quarterback Brady Leaf. "I'm a pretty old-fashioned guy, so I just wear what they give me."
Leaf didn't wear one of the new helmets because only about half of them have arrived, and his wasn't in that first shipment.
When do the rest arrive?
"That's the question," UO equipment manager Pat Conrad said.
The hope is that the remainder of the helmets will be delivered from a California company, Contintental Athletic, that is doing the painting before Oregon's departure for Las Vegas on Monday morning. Conrad said the players should wear the helmets in practice situations for three days before using them in a game.
"When you get a new helmet, you need to see what it feels like," Leaf said. "The fit of a helmet is a lot different when you start sweating, and it starts sliding around."
At the least, these look different. Very different.
"It's something we have to get used to," UO center Enoka Lucas said.
First comes the coloration, which changes depending on the angle of the viewer and the lighting.
"A couple of people said it looked like tennis balls," receiver James Finley said.
"Honestly, it's hard to say," fellow receiver Jordan Kent said. "I'm speechless as far as the color, I can't quite describe it. It's sort of a lightning yellow but then it fades to a kind of lime-greenish.
"I guess if a duck was yellow, that's what I'd envision it to look like."
"It's lightning something," linebacker Brent Haberly said, with some uncertainty. "I'm not sure. It'll all come together when we put the uniforms on, supposedly."
The expected choice of uniform color, with these helmets, is the lightning jerseys with the same-colored pants. It should make for quite a show on the ESPN national telecast.
"I'm curious what they're going to say about this," said kicker Paul Martinez.
Not Lucas. "ESPN is going to have a hay-day," he said.
Is that good, or not so much?
"It's going to look perfect on TV," Finley predicted. But then, he is a fan of the new helmets.
"They're pretty cool," Finley said. "They're different and I think that's what the modern-day era is about, different."
His one disappointment: the silver flames - yes, look closely - don't stand out enough.
"I don't know if you can see them from far away, but I like the design of the helmet in general," Finley said. "I think it fits us."
There remains some question whether the Ducks will show this latest innovation in uniforms in Las Vegas. Conrad cautioned that the new helmets are "only an option right now," since the Ducks need the full allotment or nobody will wear one, and this is a testing process.
But who thinks the Nike designers don't want these helmets introduced in the spotlight of a bowl game?
"Nike does so much for us (that) we can try out these new helmets," Leaf said. "In 10 years everybody might be using them."
Well, yeah, they might ...
"I'm just going to say we're really lucky we have the opportunity to have something specialized made for