Located in Eugene, Oregon the University of Oregon has a rather unique mascot in the Ducks nickname that is affiliate with all of the athletic programs associated with the school. Quaking fans and a seemingly harmless mascot that bears a striking resemblance to the Disney character Donald Duck are not exactly the sorts of things that are normally thought of as striking fear into the hearts of conference opponents.
The story behind the origin of the University of Oregon mascot begins in Eugene, Oregon. Located in the coastal county of Lane County the city of Eugene has a metropolitan population that tops 340,000 people. During the era when the school was founded in 1876 a nickname even more unusual than the Ducks was chosen. That strange nickname was the “Webfoots.” The curious term given to the first sports team to play for the University of Oregon is said to have been coined by an area sports editor by the name of L.H. Gregory. Legend states that the inexplicable nickname is in some way tied to early Willamette Valley (Oregon) settlers whose ancestors were part of the fishing trade across the country in the state of Massachusetts. Seemingly for lack of a better alternative the nickname stuck for roughly sixty years until a sports reporter in a new generation instituted a shift.
The concept of a Duck mascot was first implemented in the 1930s when a tiny white duck that went by the name Puddles started to make appearances at big games. Puddles the duck was an instant hit with students and faculty alike. The popularity of cartoons in the 1940s ushered in the first drawings of a lovable cartoon image of the University of Oregon mascot.
Student depictions of the adored mascot started showing up in student publications with an increasing likeness to the already established Disney animated creature widely known as Donald Duck. Fortunately for the school and fans alike a sensible agreement to continue using the likeness of Donald Duck was quickly reached. Whereas in the more litigious twenty-first century Disney and the University of Oregon might clash over legal considerations it just so happened that the Oregon athletic director at the time named Leo Harris had a connection with a Disney cartoonist that arranged for Mr. Harris to sit down with Walt Disney himself and work out an agreement that was sealed with an informal handshake. This infamous handshake would come to be a point of contention when Disney Corporation lawyers broached the subject in the 1970s. Eventually a formal agreement was drafted and signed allowing the continued use of the likeness of Donald Duck in accordance with the wishes of the late Mr. Walt Disney.
The modern day version of the University of Oregon Duck is no longer referred to as Puddles. Today the most commonly heard names for the revised mascot that sports an Oregon green and yellow outfit are Donald Duck, the Fighting Duck, and the simplistic moniker The Duck.