A Unique Perspective
Nov. 17, 2000
EUGENE, Ore. - Like every other Oregon player, Saturday's CivilWargame against Oregon State means everything to Joey Harrington. But few otherplayers have the same connection with the rivalry that he does.
The Oregon quarterback learned all he needed to know aboutOregon-Oregon State from his father, who played for the Ducks. John Harrington, mostly abackup quarterback from 1967-69, never played on a winning team and neverknewthe pleasure of beating the rival Beavers.
'I'm sure that doesn't sit well with him now,' Joey Harrington said.'Asan Oregonian, this is the game you dream about.'
The younger Harrington will be going for his second straight Civil Warvictory Saturday, when the No. 5 Ducks play the No. 8 Beavers, with a shotatthe Rose Bowl as the prize.
It's always difficult for a son trying to measure up to his father'saccomplishments, to make a name for himself. But in this case, JoeyHarringtonnot only has eclipsed his dad, but has joined the list of other great Oregonquarterbacks like Norm Van Brocklin, Dan Fouts, Bill Musgrave, Danny O'NeilandAkili Smith.
John Harrington's career numbers were modest: He completed 81 of 203passes(just under 40 percent) for 1,130 yards, eight touchdowns and 12interceptions.Joey, a junior, has completed 255 of 488 passes (52 percent), with 30touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Joey said his father doesn't talk about football much, because hedoesn'twant to overshadow him or his two brothers, who also play the game. Thismakesthe elder Harrington laugh.
'There's no way I could overshadow him,' John said. 'I saw my stats inthe paper one day, and my youngest kid said, 'Geez, Dad, how embarrassing.''
Michael Harrington is the starting quarterback at Portland's CentralCatholic High School, which is 10-0 and contending for the state title. Hisyounger brother Nick, a sophomore, is the team's long snapper, with Michaeldoing the punting. Both have fun with their father about his playing days.
'There was an article in USA Today after Joe threw for 382 yardsagainstUSC, and then my Dad against USC threw for 45 yards, so we gave him griefthewhole week,' Michael said. 'He was like 2-for-7 for 45 yards ... the gamehaschanged.'
The most important statistic for Joey Harrington is that the Ducks are15-1when he's been in the game, and 13-1 when he's been the starter. He has ledhisteam back from a deficit seven times, including four times this season. Hethrew six touchdown passes against Arizona State, two in the last 3 1/2minutes ofregulation, to help the Ducks win a 56-55 game in double-overtime.
Harrington admits he gets too emotionally high for games, and many ofhispasses are behind his receivers or over their heads. In a 14-10 victory overArizona, he was just 9-of-22 for 123 yards, but he threw two perfect passestoMarshaun Tucker - touchdown passes of 25 and 20 yards - in the first half toprovide the winning margin.
'He's going to have his bad days and when he does, it's up to us tomakehim look good,' said Tucker, who calls Harrington `the General' because ofhisleadership ability. 'But the one thing about Joey - he might have a badgame,but he knows how to suck it up. He doesn't get mentally down.'
Perhaps affected by the pressure of playing in front of family andfriendsfrom Portland, has completed 49 percent of his passes for 971 yards andeighttouchdowns in six home games, compared with 54 percent, 1,390 yards and 12touchdowns in four road games. Saturday's game is in Corvallis.
'I think I've done better lately, not letting my emotions get thebetter ofme,' he said. 'But on the other hand, I think there have been times when Icould have been more emotional, more animated. I constantly struggle to findabalance between being too excited and not excited enough.'
John Harrington saw that kind of intensity, and some other specialqualities, early on with his oldest son.
'I guess looking back, he was terribly competitive at a young age,'saidJohn, now the principal at David Douglas High School in Portland. 'He'salwaysseemed to have that intangible. You can't quite put your finger on it, butheseems to play better when the game is on the line, and he makes the peopleplaybetter around him, and that's always the mark of a good quarterback.'
Of the Civil War, Joey Harrington said he'll either 'cherish it for therest of my life, or it will haunt me.' Win or lose, though, he'll still gohome for Thanksgiving dinner, and the only rule is no talking aboutfootball.
'I guess he told my Mom, and she's already spread it through thefamily,that when he comes home for Thanksgiving, no football,' Michael said. 'He'ssick of it.'
By LANDON HALL
AP Sports Writer