ARLINGTON, Texas -- The best catch made by a man in Notre Dame colors at Saturday's Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic belonged to a Vietnamese refugee seated in Section 330 at AT&T Stadium.
Tuyen Nguyen, who has spent most of his adult life working as a carpenter on Notre Dame's campus, starred in a pre-kickoff viral moment on Saturday, when a bald eagle circling the stadium during the national anthem decided to land with Nguyen instead of its handlers.
"He looked pretty tired," Nguyen said during Clemson's 30-3 win. "I just put my hand out to see if he was going to land on me, and he did. It was just an instant reaction."
Nguyen said he made sure his sweatshirt sleeve was pinned down before sticking his arm out in hopes of giving the eagle a spot to land. The eagle previously had landed on the back of a different Notre Dame fan, who looked far less prepared for his role as a human runway.
The eagle, named Clark, remained perched on Nguyen's arm for several minutes before the bird's caretakers came to retrieve him.
Nguyen figured the bird would be trained and tame, so he wasn't concerned about the large, sharp beak a few inches from his face.
Nguyen said he first came to South Bend, Indiana, with his sister in 1979 as a teenager in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Watching Notre Dame football games was part of his introduction to America. He made the trip to Texas to visit friends and family along with his wife and two sons, one of whom recently graduated from Notre Dame.
Nguyen has lived in Indiana for most of his time in the United States, other than a short stint in Philadelphia, where he fell in love with that city's professional sports teams.