Saturday, May 2, 2015

Autzen and Marcus

Today I finally, finally, got to go to a football game at Autzen Stadium! It was only the spring game and not very intense, but it was my first time and therefore awesome to me just to be there. Just so you know, the stands filled up pretty well before the game started -- over 35,000, which is pretty good for a free spring game. Or so I'm told.

Naturally, about the time I left home the warm sunny day had become a cool overcast day, but that's ok, too. The sun did eventually come out and the day was (and is) perfect.

I was thinking this morning, looking back on my life, and the last time I can remember attending a football game in person must have been 1960, when I was a teenage high school student in Germany. I only slightly paid more attention to the game today than I did way back then, because there were too many distractions. Don't get me wrong -- I loved it, but there were things other than the game to draw my attention. I expect it would be different in a 'real' game, with the full intensity of competition, but experiencing Autzen even in this kind of game was super.

One big distraction in my mind today was the knowledge that our own, now Nashville's own, Marcus Mariota would be attending the game. He was acknowledged at half time with this video, but was so far away that I never really saw him other than on the big screen. However, after I knew how he was dressed and roughly where he was hanging out, I kept looking for him during the second half. My moment came when I saw a photographer running along the sideline towards the end of the Oregon players right below where we were sitting, and then there he was, live and in person.

For once (in recent weeks) my camera and its zoom lens behaved and I ended up with a bunch of long-lens photos. With the lens at full zoom (24x) it's hard to find the subject you want, and hard to keep that subject in view, but fortunately he was the only one in that group wearing green so I just kept following the green, snapping the shutter, and hoping for the best. Mind you, this is the standard view from where I was sitting:

Marcus and his crowd of fans were all the way at the end of this walkway, right around the 10 yard line, so you will appreciate these photos for what they are, not what they could have been. Personally, I think the camera did a pretty good job, considering what it had to work with. There he is, green shirt, black cap. Adoring crowds wanting a bit of him. 'My' bit of him came mostly from the rear, but I can live with that. I'm happy to have good focus.

Clearly, everybody wanted a piece of him, just as I did, including this ref who ran from a distance and hollered at him, shook his hand. And Marcus, being Marcus, was patient and kind to every one of them.

Maybe not the last time we'll see him visit, and maybe even not the last time he'll be wearing Oregon green, but certainly the first time at Autzen without the jersey with the number 8 on it.

So yeah, I enjoyed the whole thing, including 'shout' from 'Animal House between the 3rd and 4th quarters, but it was really cool to see this kid once, in person, even from a distance. A good day followed by a super hamburger and beer at Falling Sky Brewery.

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