Hatfield, Nike’s vice president for design and special projects, is himself a former OU student-athlete. Since he competed for the Ducks in track and field nearly 50 years ago, he appreciates the perspective of others, like former UO footballers Brandon McLemore and Garren Strong.
Recently, Hatfield asked McLemore, a Ducks defensive back in the late ’90s, his thoughts on a special edition Air Jordan VIII that Hatfield made fun of the UO football team. McLemore’s response: “It’s fire.”
“They think it’s really strong,” Hatfield said. “So that’s a really good indicator that it won’t just be another limited edition Oregon Jordan, but maybe one of the best we’ve ever made.”
That would be a remarkable development considering the popularity of the player-exclusive Air Jordans that Hatfield has provided to the Ducks in the past. They have been immensely popular with both UO student-athletes and the global sneakerhead population. But even after providing limited edition shoes for Oregon’s men’s and women’s football, track and field, and basketball on several occasions in recent years, Hatfield revealed something particularly special for the Ducks earlier this this month.
Hatfield presented the limited edition Oregon Jordan VIII PE to the UO football team, which was originally released in 1993 and was not reproduced as often as other models. The version the Ducks received has a twist on the logo used, a side profile of The Duck’s head called “Fighting Duck” which is normally white but in this case is black.
Hatfield began designing logos to recognize and celebrate black Oregon student-athletes at the behest of some track and field teammates as he competed for the Ducks as a sprinter and jumper in 1972. He has to do so. first used the “Fighting Duck” logo in black on a limited edition Air Huarache for the track and field program, in response to a request from the UO head coach Robert johnson in 2016. Now the football program has its own version.
Hatfield’s designs celebrating the diversity of OU student-athletes began with a patch he created for the track and field program warm-up tracksuits in the spring of 1973. The badges were specific to each student-athlete, with their last names embroidered on each – although a nickname has been incorporated.
“Pre of course said ‘Pre’,” Hatfield said of legendary UO long-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 the warm-up sweatshirts was brought up, it was put to a vote by the whole team – and passed unanimously, Hatfield recalled.
In the meantime, the appearance of a logo celebrating the diversity within UO athletics has evolved. But the message behind them remains the same.
“We’re all on the same team, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are,” Hatfield said. “We’re all trying to do our thing.”