It’s easy, I confess, to be cynical about, well, nearly everything, including sports, which have been a big part of my life since I was a young boy. Marcus Mariota, the quarterback of the #2 (in the national championship poll) Oregon Ducks, who play at Autzen Stadium, just minutes from my home, is by all accounts a nice antidote to such cynicism. He is one of the best football players in the country, he is in the thick of the Heisman Trophy conversation, and he has put up crazy numbers in his three years as a starter.
But he is just as well-known here for his unassuming and humble character, exhibited in a number of notable ways, from being a top student, to regularly giving food (often taken from the snack bar at the Ducks’ training facility) to the homeless, to spending time each week at the local Boys and Girls Club. He also, I have it on good authority, is a regular at Mass, being raised in a solidly Catholic family from Hawaii.
A junior, Mariota will most likely enter the NFL draft after this season concludes. Which sets up this video of Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, in today’s press conference following Oregon’s 44-10 win over Colorado, being asked by sixth grader Charlie Papé about Mariota’s future. Papé, it turns out, is a student at O’Hara Catholic School here in Eugene. The exchange between young student and college coach is quite funny.
Of course, it’s a relief that young Papé put the three things in the order he did. But what was the fourth thing? We may never know, but I plan to ask a friend of mine who teaches at the school if he has any ideas.
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