More than 44,000 fans enjoyed Oregon's spring game Saturday — a record crowd for the Ducks and more than the combined spring game attendance of USC, Cal, Stanford, Washington and Arizona — but for several military personnel, the game was extra special.
At the conclusion of the spring game, several members of the United States Armed Forces lined one of the sidelines of Autzen Stadium while players lined the other. The two parties met at midfield where the Ducks remove their commemorative jerseys from their pads and put the jersey back on before meeting the servicemen and women out on the field. Then they take the jerseys off and trade them for a coin given by the military member. The players later autograph the jerseys and then show the members of the military around their awesome locker room and facility.
This is the third year Oregon has done this tribute — the brainchild of coach Chip Kelly — and the entire spring game is dedicated to the military.
Prior to the game, after the national anthem, two F-15 fighter jets flew over the stadium. It was the Ducks' first-ever spring game flyover — possibly the first-ever during a Pac-12 spring game, according to Oregon media relations director Andy McNamara, who queried every school and heard back from all except USC — and only the second flyover in school history (against Oregon State last season). A Coast Guard helicopter also flew over the stadium at halftime.
This is such a cool tribute to the troops. I know a lot of teams honor the military at different times during the season, but this goes above and beyond. And because it's the spring game and it's a little more casual, Oregon can really go all out.
It's hard topping Northwestern's annual dizzy bat race, but this is truly one of the great spring game traditions around.
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