A bald eagle that flew during the national anthem before Saturday’s college football playoff semifinal between Notre Dame and Clemson never made it to his designated landing spot, on the opposite end of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Instead, after bypassing his landing platform inside the stadium, in which the roof was closed and which held 90,000 excited fans, Clark the eagle returned almost to his take-off spot and landed on the shoulder of a Notre Dame fan clad in a green shirt.
Clark then took off again and flew to the other end of the stadium, before doing a U-turn and landing on the outstretched arm of another Notre Dame fan.
After a few seconds, handler Daniel Cone retrieved Clark and got his leash back on him. The small platform on the field where Clark was supposed to land was disassembled without him having made the scheduled stop.
It was the biggest stadium in which Clark has flown. Two years ago, Challenger the eagle had an uneventful flight before the Cotton Bowl.
The second fan on whom Clark perched told Sports Illustrated: “When I saw the bird land, I thought the bird had to be very tired. So I put my hand out to see what happens. And it landed on me. It was very interesting. I was very excited. It was amazing, I couldn’t even believe it.”
Clark’s apparent favour could not, however, help the Fighting Irish. Clemson won 30-3, advancing to face Alabama in the playoff final.