Ducks Receive Oregon Jordan Viii Pe
When Tinker Hatfield is working on the design of a new limited edition shoe for Oregon student-athletes, he'll sometimes run his ideas by a younger colleague.
Hatfield, Nike's Vice President for Design and Special Projects, is himself a former UO student-athlete. Given that his time competing for the Ducks in track and field was almost 50 years ago, he appreciates the perspective of others, such as former UO football players Brandon McLemore and Garren Strong.
Recently Hatfield asked McLemore, a defensive back for the Ducks in the late Nineties, for his thoughts on a special edition of the Air Jordan VIII that Hatfield had mocked up for the UO football team. McLemore's response: "This is fire."
"They think it's really strong," Hatfield said. "So it's a really good indicator that this will be not just another limited edition Oregon Jordan, but maybe one of the better ones we've ever done."
That would be a remarkable development given the popularity of the player-exclusive Air Jordans that Hatfield has provided for the Ducks in the past. They've been immensely popular both with UO student-athletes and with the global "sneakerhead" population. But even after providing limited edition shoes for Oregon football, track and field, and men's and women's basketball several times in recent years, Hatfield unveiled something particularly special for the Ducks earlier this month.
Hatfield presented the UO football team with the limited edition Oregon Jordan VIII PE, which was originally released in 1993 and hasn't been reproduced since as often as some other models. The version the Ducks received has a twist on the logo used, a side profile of The Duck's head called the "Fighting Duck" that is normally white but in this case is black.
Hatfield began designing logos to acknowledge and celebrate Oregon's Black student-athletes at the request of some track and field teammates when he was competing for the Ducks as a sprinter and jumper in 1972. He first used the "Fighting Duck" logo in black on a limited edition of the Air Huarache for the track and field program, in response to a request from UO head coach Robert Johnson in 2016. Now, the football program has its own version.
Hatfield's designs celebrating the diversity of UO student-athletes began with a patch that he created for the track and field program's warmup sweats in the spring of 1973. The patches were specific to each student-athlete, with their last names embroidered on each — although one incorporated a nickname.
"Pre's of course said 'Pre'," Hatfield recalled of legendary UO distance runner Steve Prefontaine.
Hatfield had been asked to design the patch by some fellow sprinters and jumpers, many of them Black student-athletes. When the idea of using the patch on warmup sweats was broached, it was put to a vote of the full team — and passed unanimously, Hatfield recalled.
In the intervening years, the look of a logo celebrating diversity within UO athletics has evolved. But the message behind them remains the same.
"We're all part of the same team, and it doesn't matter where you came from or who you are," Hatfield said. "We're all trying to do our thing."