From mascots to team nicknames, Cubs-cursing cats to . . . Cubs-cursing goats, the influence of animals on sports is everywhere. And despite the Oregon football team again falling one win short of a national championship in 2014-15 (then falling off the map the following season), no animal is hotter than the duck. So before Oregon’s or Anaheim’s Ducks get to quack their own horn, here’s a look at some of sports’ most memorable Ducks (and Swanns and Geese).
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
The original duck. The King of the ducks. THE DUCK. And Donald isn’t just about makin’ movies, chasin’ Daisy and hatin’ Mickey. Along with taking the field with Steelers and former University of Georgia LB Jarvis Jones to toss the first pitch at a Braves spring training game, Donald’s taken plenty of turns in sports — such as ‘Donald’s Golf Game (1938) and ‘The Hockey Champ’ (1939).
Joe ‘Ducky’ Medwick
The first of several Hall of Famers on this list, Medwick remains the last player to win the NL Triple Crown of hitting, doing so in 1937 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in what would be his only MVP season. A 10-time All-Star and a World Series winner with the 1934 Cardinals, Medwick was nicknamed ‘Ducky’ due to his waddle. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968, seven years before he died at age 63.
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The Oregon Duck
Thanks to the ascension of the Oregon athletics program, no duck has gotten more run in recent years than the pride of the Pacific Northwest. From TV commercials to awards shows, this guy is no stranger to the spotlight. In fact, about the only thing the world doesn’t know about him is his name. He bears a striking resemblance to Donald Duck (so much so that Disney and the school had a long-standing licensing agreement), but the Oregon mascot predates Donald and the name first given the mascot is still the most commonly used one today — Puddles.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAChristopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA
The Anaheim Duck
There’s no disputing this guy’s name. Wild Wing. And there’s no disputing his inspiration or tie to Disney — he and the entire franchise were founded by Disney, after the success of the Disney film ‘The Mighty Ducks.’ And clearly, there’s no disputing his game, either. And unlike Puddles, Wild Wing has hoisted a pretty cool trophy in recent years — the Stanley Cup in 2007.
NHLI via Getty ImagesDebora Robinson
Yeah, no duck in this guy’s name. And no duck mascot, either. But Howard the Duck is one of the most notorious ducks in Hollywood history. But this Howard? He never ducked anyone. Who else would go toe-to-toe with Muhammad Ali in a robe and chuckle at the champ?
Getty ImagesFocus On Sport
Rich ‘Goose’ Gossage
Gossage began his career with the Chicago White Sox at age 20. He ended it with the Seattle Mariners at age 43. In between, he made nine All-Star Games, won a World Series with the Yankees and carved out a Hall of Fame career. With his signature mustache, Gossage was the closer the Yankees needed in 1978, as he came over from Pittsburgh to New York and collected a league-high 27 saves in that title season. Gossage, who was known as ‘Goss’ but became ‘Goose’ when a friend noted the way he extended his neck to receive signs from the catcher, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Getty ImagesRonald C. Modra/Sports Imagery
Anthony Jerome Webb’s . . . OK, Spud’s feet weren’t webbed, but they sure could get him up there. The 5-foot-7 guard will forever have a home in NBA lore with his performance in the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest, where he defeated Atlanta Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins in the final to become the shortest man to ever win the contest; a distinction he still holds.
NBAE/Getty ImagesAndrew D. Bernstein
The swan is adored as the duck’s more graceful cousin. Fittingly, Swann’s gracefulness on the gridiron made him one of the greatest receivers of the 1970s. His career (336 catches, 5,462 yards, 51 TDs, three Pro Bowls) made him great. His performance in Super Bowls made him a Hall of Famer. In four Super Bowls he had 16 catches for 364 yards and three scores. And his all-time highlight catches, most notably a tip-toe job on the sideline and juggling 53-yard grab while falling down, made him Super Bowl X MVP.
The Aflac Duck
This mascot first appeared in commercials for insurance company Aflac in 1999. The duck’s signature ‘Aflac!’ scream of annoyance was long voiced by comedian Gilbert Gottfried until a Twitter controversy got him fired in 2011. In sports, the duck became synonymous with the No. 99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards from 2009 through 2014, serving as primary sponsor in Edwards’ best season, 2011 when he tied Tony Stewart for first in the final standings but lost the championship on a tiebreaker.
NASCAR via Getty ImagesJared C. Tilton
Not the global icon that Donald is, but look at him. He looks better in front of that car than does Jeff Gordon (or Jenna Elfman). And did Donald do a movie with Jordan? (1996’s ‘Space Jam’ for all you kids out there.)
Long Island Ducks
A franchise in the independent Atlantic League, the Ducks have won three league championships. But QuackerJack’s team is most famous for the names that have passed on the way to (or the way back to, or the way to never making it to) the majors: Pete Rose Jr., Juan Gonzalez, Jose Offerman and Dontrelle Wills. The Ducks even faced 50-year-old Roger Clemens in The Rocket’s brief minor-league stint in 2012.
What is it with relievers and the facial hair? Quackenbush is no Goose Gossage (not yet, anyway). But as a rookie in 2014, the Padres reliever appeared in 56 games and registered a 2.48 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings pitched Unfortunately, while he did pitch four more innings and strike out two more batters the following season, his ERA, walks, WHIP and home run ratios all ballooned.
Getty ImagesAndy Hayt
In the NBA, a duck is worth nearly 12 points and 6 rebounds per game over 11 seasons, two All-Star Games and two trips to the NBA Finals. In the Portland Trail Blazers’ days atop the Western Conference in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Duckworth was an integral part of the success. He played — and started — in 242 games over a three-season span, averaging 14.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He died of heart failure in August 2008 at age 44.
Brian DrakeBrian Drake
The patriarch of the ‘Duck Dynasty’ empire — estimated by some to be worth as much as $400 million — has a few ties to sports. In April 2014, the Robertson family were a visible presence at the Duck Commander 500, the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Texas sponsored by the family company. They also sponsored a bowl game -- the Duck Commander Independence Bowl, of course. And if hunting is a sport, they’ve got that covered, too. But Robertson’s greatest claim to sports fame came in college, when in the late 1960s he fended off a big-time recruit and was the starting quarterback at Louisiana Tech. That recruit who sat the bench behind Robertson for two seasons? Terry Bradshaw.