Oregon is a state with a long history of innovators and risk-takers. Look no further than Oregon-born and -bred Phil Knight, who co-founded Nike out of the trunk of his car and turned the Beaverton-based company into a $30 billion juggernaut. Long before Mr. Knight tied his first Blue Ribbon, there were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark — better known simply as Lewis and Clark — who similarly faced down the unknown when, in 1805, having been commissioned by president Thomas Jefferson, they led an expedition that introduced Oregon to the rest of the country.
It’s that famous mission, and those famous explorers, that inspire the latest look for the Oregon Ducks football team, another of the state’s famous innovators. The Oregon Pioneers uniforms, as they’re known, feature a sublimated tonal topographic map of the Oregon Trail printed over the entire grey jersey, showcasing some of Oregon’s famous landmarks and cities, from Mt. Hood to Eugene and beyond. In fact, each player’s jersey is unique in its pattern, displaying a slightly different area of the map for a distinct style and minimized production waste — every jersey was cut from the same piece of fabric. (How are players allowed to wear jerseys that don’t match, however slightly? Asking the wrong guy.)
That bold jersey is paired with a metallic silver helmet that features a silhouette of Lewis and Clark along with the Oregon Duck mascot on either side. Clark and the Duck point west as a nod to the explorers’ journey, while Lewis peers through a telescope.
The front bumper on the helmet features a handshake graphic meanwhile, representing the Thomas Jefferson Peace Medals that the president gave to Lewis and Clark. The explorers offered them to individuals that they encountered on the journey, a show of peace, friendship and trust. The handshake also resonates within Nike, as the company was essentially founded on a handshake agreement between Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman.
Shifting to the back of the helmet, a 33-star flag is featured rather than the standard 50-star variety. The 33-star flag was introduced in 1859, resulting from Oregon’s acceptance into the Union.
Finally, finishing details include “Salute the State” stitched inside each jersey collar, celebrating Oregon, its history and all of its people, and a Lewis and Clark-inspired Duck appearing on each sock, punctuating the theme.
Certainly one of the Ducks’ most unique looks to date, the Oregon Pioneers uniforms will be worn Saturday, October 10, against Washington State. Special edition jerseys, shirts and other gear are available for purchase on Nike.com and in Oregon Ducks retail shops beginning October 5.