Sporting Oregon tattoos and adopting a game day persona, the Duck Nut goes all out for his Ducks
By UO Student Lili Wagner
Tom Finneran, also known as the Duck Nut,
hadn’t missed a home game in more than
thirty years. (Photo: Duck Nut Facebook page)
Tom Finneran has been a fan of the Oregon Ducks for almost as long as he can remember. He purchased season tickets for the first time in the early 1970s and as his love for the Ducks grew, so did his superfan persona. This Duck fan has spent decades developing a wild reputation as one of the most dedicated Oregon enthusiasts around. Finneran, or as other fans know him, the Duck Nut, hasn’t missed a home game in more than 30 years. Decked from head to toe in green and yellow, he describes himself as “of the fans, for the fans.”
Though his persona has had different incarnations over the years, today he sports a camouflage suit, face paint, and army helmet, all in Oregon’s signature colors. On one arm he has a tattoo of an Oregon helmet and two footballs and on the other arm he has a tattoo of the famous Oregon “O” and the school’s fighting Duck. The outfit’s central piece, the army helmet, was given to Finneran by a friend and was recently customized to match the tattoo on his left bicep. The outfit and character are constantly under construction. Every year he adds new things to improve his spirited personality.
“My whole character is about the fan’s experience,” Finneran says. “It’s about creating that experience you remember. It’s about fan interaction. That’s what the Duck Nut is about.”
From taking photos with fans in Autzen Stadium to making appearances at watch parties outside of the 541 area code, he constantly promotes human interaction as a part of the Oregon fan experience.
“Once at the Fiesta Bowl I was approached by someone who had a relative I had met a few years earlier. Apparently this relative had had a great experience and still had the picture we had taken so we called her up on FaceTime and she was so excited,” he recalls.
The Duck Nut poses with Oregon’s mascot.
(Photo: Duck Nut Facebook page)
After years of appearances, handshakes, and photo ops, he has become a zany fixture at football games in Eugene. Following the Ducks when he can, he has also been spotted at the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, and stadiums across the country. His dedication has even won national attention. He has twice won the ESPN Cheez-It Fan of the Week award and he recently travelled to Orlando, Florida where he was awarded the What a Fan National Fan award.
Winning the NCAA What a Fan National Fan award, presented by sports fan blog What a Fan, was an exciting moment for Finneran. In the wacky world of super-fans, the competition for most spirited supporter is intense. The Duck Nut beat out friend and rival Buck Nut, from the Ohio State University, to win the NCAA division. Other What a Fan winners included Gregg Wreckin Ball Wilson, the Raider Crusader, and the Spurs BigHomie. Finneran’s exciting trip to Orlando unfortunately drew him from Eugene just as the Ducks prepared to face South Dakota, forcing him to miss his first home game in 36 years.
“It’s so much fun,” Finneran says of taking on the Duck Nut character. “He has a little different swagger on game day. I put on the helmet and take on a different persona. And in all the years I’ve been doing this people are always gracious and kind.”
“I love my Ducks,” he concludes. “I bleed green and yellow.”