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Oregon's daredevil duck mascot descends from the rafters

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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In addition to his incredible upper body strength from all those pushups he did after touchdowns this football season, Oregon's duck mascot apparently also has a bit of a daredevil streak.

The Duck made the most eye-catching entrance of anyone during the pregame ceremony before the first-ever game at Oregon's Matthew Knight Arena on Thursday night. He descended from the rafters via a harness amid applause from the sellout crowd, landing at mid-court with a burst of pyrotechnics on both sides.

The arrival of the Duck was just one of the highlights from Matt Court's wild opening ceremony. There were dance acts, cheerleading routines, flames and a choreographed court-storming from the Pit Crew -- everything short of the "laser show" UCLA coach Ben Howland predicted.

At the end of the ceremony, normally reticent Nike chairman Phil Knight grabbed a microphone and addressed the crowd from among the beige and brown painted trees that silhouette the court. The arena is named after Knight's son Matthew, who died in a scuba diving accident in 2004 at age 34.

"There's emotion that went into this building,'' Knight said, "and I hope it carries forward.''

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