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The Tony story william redmond

Before the Rebel family started throwing up the signature Landshark Fins Up sign at every opportunity, a young man from Washington introduced it to them.

Growing up in the small town of Port Orchard, Washington, football was everything to Tony Fein, who was the ultimate team player. Playing on both sides of the ball, Fein starred at quarterback and linebacker for South Kitsap High School before making the decision to join the Army after his senior year rather than pursue an opportunity to play football in college. Turns out, there were bigger things in life than football for Fein.

Following graduation from high school, Fein served over three years in the United States Army, including one tour in Iraq. After his discharge, Fein enrolled in Scottsdale Community College in Arizona and became a top junior college prospect.

Just so happens at the time, Ole Miss was looking for a match at linebacker with the departure of Patrick Willis to the league. Enter Tony Fein.

Always full of energy, Tony Fein made an instant impact the minute he stepped on campus in Oxford.

Fein earned two letters playing middle linebacker at Ole Miss, seeing action in 24 games, including seven starts.

In the spring of 2008, Fein received the Pat Tillman Patriot Award by the Military Order of the Purple Heart to exhibit to Americans that some athletes can battle on the gridiron and on the battlefield.

Fein's lasting legacy on Rebel Football goes way beyond his statistics. His Landshark rally cry made a home in the Ole Miss defensive unit during the 2008 season and is still very much alive today. It started in practice that season, when Fein sacked then Rebel quarterback Jevan Sneadduring a drill and quickly threw up the hand sign.

Spurring his defensive peers to smell blood in the water like a shark, Fein's teammates like standouts Jerrell Powe and Peria Jerry adopted the Landshark persona, and the Rebel defense rose up to become one of the nation's best, ranking fourth in the nation against the run in 2008. After four straight losing seasons, Ole Miss returned to prominence with a 9-4 record, and before long, the whole team and fan base were throwing "Fins Up."

Fein's inspirational story followed him to the NFL and eventually to his untimely death on Oct. 6, 2009. His life was cut short, but he will forever be known as the original Landshark to the Ole Miss faithful.

"In 2008, Fins Up was born, but after a few years it became part of every sport, every fan, every experience," said Micah Ginn, Associate A.D. for Sports Productions and Creative Services. "It became second only to Hotty Toddy in terms of greetings between Ole Miss folks.

Fins Up is more than just a football thing at Ole Miss

IN OCTOBER 2017, THE ASSOCIATED STUDENT BODY SENT OUT A CAMPUS WIDE POLL TO MAKE THE LANDSHARK THE NEW ON FIELD MASCOT FOR THE UNIVERSITY. THE POLLS WERE NEAR UNANIMOUS.

For the next ten months, university leaders teamed up with Hollywood’s most creative costume designers to bring the Landshark vision to life.

The first ideas of the Landshark were simple sketches done in house.

The ideas were brought to a branding firm in Hattiesburg who had their own take on what Tony should look like.

Just like any other Hollywood idea, you start with sketches of your own.

The ideas were shipped to Hollywood to costume designers who had roles in films like The Dark Knight. They were put to the test to develop the reality of Tony into a costume for on field Ole Miss games.

Once the designers settled on a general idea of what they wanted Tony to look like, they started molding clay to make it life-like.

They started small, and took it to the dimensions they wanted before making the final call of making the mask.

The new mascot shows the ferocity of the Ole Miss fanbase paired with the fun energy needed to connect with the younger generation of Rebels. Tony the Landshark was unveiled at the Meet the Rebels in early August in front of thousands of fans.

Long lines of fans lined up to meet members of the Ole Miss football, rifle, soccer and volleyball teams at the Manning Center until Tony was unveiled with pyrotechnics and smoke.

Like Fein, Tony wears the #47 in honor of the Rebel legend.

Created By
William Redmond
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Credits:

Josh McCoy - Ole Miss Athletics Micah Ginn - Ole Miss Athletics

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