The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Some tidbits and information on the Army/Navy game

I was watching the Army/Navy game, the series has been dubbed "America's Game", the game is the only game that the participants are willing to lay down their lives if necessary for the other side.  Which is an unusual concept unless you are a member of the brotherhood and understand  the concept of self sacrifice.  I used to watch the game in the late 70's and early 80's with my Dad who is an Army guy, I supported Navy because I had read all this stuff on WWII and was wanting to join the Navy and be a carrier pilot.  Funny how life goes, I joined the Army and saw and did a lot of things so I supported my Army team ever since. 
    The Army won but it was a good game, both teams played well and there were very few penalties...unusual for a football game. President-Elect Donald Trump made an appearance and was cheered on by both sides.

 I have included video's from both the Army and Navy's perspectives. 
Kids Play Army...Not Navy..

Army and Navy first met on the football field on November 29, 1890. The series has been renewed annually since 1899, except for 1909, 1917, 1918 and 1929. It has been held at several locations throughout its history, including Baltimore and New York City, but has most frequently been played in Philadelphia, roughly equidistant from the two academies. Historically played on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (a date on which most other major college football teams end their regular seasons), the game is now played on the second Saturday in December and is traditionally the last game of the season for both teams and the last regular-season game played in Division I-A football. With the permanent expansion of the regular season to 12 games starting in 2006, several conference championship games joined the Army–Navy Game on its then-current date of the first weekend of December. In 2009, the game was moved from the first Saturday in December to the second Saturday; this means that it will no longer conflict with conference championship games and once again is the last non-bowl contest in college football.

                     1908 Army–Navy college football game at Franklin Field.
This game has inter-service "bragging rights" at stake. For much of the first half of the 20th century, both Army and Navy were often national powers, and the game occasionally had national championship implications. However, as the level of play in college football improved nationally, and became fueled by prospects of playing in the National Football League (NFL), the high academic entrance requirements, height and weight limits, and the five-year military commitment required has reduced the overall competitiveness of both academies. Since 1963, only the 1996, 2010, and 2016 games have seen both teams enter with winning records. Nonetheless, the game is considered a college football institution. It has aired nationally on radio since the late 1920s, and has been nationally televised every year since 1945. The tradition associated with the game assures that it remains nationally broadcast to this day.
Arguably, one of the reasons this game has maintained its appeal is that the players are playing solely for the love of the game. By the time their post-graduation military commitments end, many players are simply deemed too old to even consider playing competitively again, much less in the professional ranks. Many have other post-service ambitions that would preclude such a career, or they simply do not want to pursue one. Nevertheless, some participants in the Army–Navy Game have gone on to professional football careers. Quarterback Roger Staubach (Navy, 1965) went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys that included being named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI. Wide receiver and kickoff/punt returner Phil McConkey (Navy, 1979) was a popular player on the New York Giants' squad that won Super Bowl XXI. Running back Napoleon McCallum (Navy, 1985) was able to concurrently serve his commitment to the Navy and play for the then-Los Angeles Raiders in 1986. After satisfying his Navy commitment, he joined the Raiders full-time. Sadly, his career was ended by a gruesome knee injury suffered in a game against the San Francisco 49ers in 1994.
The game is especially emotional for the seniors, called "first classmen" by both academies, since it is typically the last competitive regular season football game they will ever play (though both Army and Navy went to bowl games afterwards in 1996 and 2010, and Navy played in a bowl game every season since 2003, except for 2011). During wartime the game is even more emotional, as some seniors will not return once they are deployed. For instance, in the 2004 game, at least one senior from the class of 2003 who was killed in Iraq, Navy's J. P. Blecksmith, was remembered. The players placed their comrade's pads and jerseys on chairs on the sidelines. Much of the sentiment of the game goes out to those who share the uniform and who are overseas.
At the end of the game, both teams' alma maters are played and sung. The winning team stands alongside the losing team and faces the losing academy students; then the losing team accompanies the winning team, facing their students. This is done in a show of mutual respect and solidarity. Since the winning team's alma mater is always played last, the phrase "to sing second" has become synonymous with winning the rivalry game.

The rivalry between Annapolis and West Point, while friendly, is intense. Even the mascots (the Navy Goat and Army Mule) have been known to play pranks on each other. The Cadets live and breathe the phrase "Beat Navy", while Midshipmen have the opposite phrase, "Beat Army", drummed into them (even the weight plates in the Navy weight room are stamped with "Beat Army"). They have become a symbol of competitiveness, not just in the Army–Navy Game, but in the service of their country, and are often used at the close of (informal) letters by graduates of both academies. A long-standing tradition at the Army-Navy football game is to conduct a formal "prisoner exchange" as part of the pre-game activities. The prisoners are the cadets and midshipmen currently spending the semester studying at the sister academy. After the exchange, students have a brief reprieve to enjoy the game with their comrades.
Occasionally, the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, awarded to each season's winner of the triangular series between Army, Navy, and Air Force, will be at stake in this game. For most of the 1970s, Navy had held the trophy. After a period of flux for most of the 1980s, Air Force dominated the competition until the early 2000s. Navy has been the dominant team in the rivalry for most of the 2000s, winning every game in the triangular rivalry starting with the 2002 Army–Navy Game and ending with a 2010 loss to Air Force. If there is a tie in the Commander-In-Chief Trophy competition, the trophy remains with the incumbent team.
The rivalries Army and Navy have with Air Force are much less intense than the Army–Navy rivalry, primarily due to the relative youth of the Air Force Academy, having been established in the 1950s, and the physical distance between Air Force and the other two schools, with the Air Force Academy being located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Army–Air Force and Navy–Air Force games are played at the academies' regular home fields, rather than at a neutral site, although Navy has occasionally moved its home games with Air Force to FedExField in Landover, Maryland.
The 34–0 Navy victory over Army on December 6, 2008, was the first shutout in the series since 1978 and marked the second time a Navy coach defeated Army in his first year of coaching, following Wayne Hardin in 1959. As of 2015, Navy has won the last 14 games in a row dating back to 2002, the longest winning streak in the history of the series.
 "this Year anything could Happen..."
Though the game has been played 115 times, only six of those games have ever been held on the campus of either academy. Neither team has ever played at an on-campus stadium nearly large enough to accommodate the large crowds that usually attend the game, as well as the media and dignitaries. Army's Michie Stadium only seats 38,000 people, while Navy's Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium only seats 34,000. The game's popularity grew enough early on that when it was revived in 1899, it was played at a neutral site, the Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Except for the 1942 and 1943 games, which were played on-campus due to World War II travel restrictions, it has been played at a neutral site every year since.
The game is primarily played in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Since 1989, the game has been held Traditionally, the game is played in Philadelphia, due to the historic nature of the city and the fact that it is approximately halfway between West Point and Annapolis. Additionally, Philadelphia has always had a stadium large enough to accommodate the crowds. Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium (JFK) hosted the game from 1936 to 1979 (except for three years in World War II) – more than any other venue in the history of the series. It even hosted the game for several years after the 1971 construction of nearby Veterans Stadium, which finally became the game's host in 1980. The Pennsylvania Railroad and its successors offered game-day service to all Army–Navy games (except several during WWII) at John F. Kennedy Stadium, using a sprawling temporary station constructed each year on the railroad's nearby Greenwich freight yard. The service, with 40-odd trains serving as many as 30,000 attendees, was the single largest concentrated passenger rail movement in the country.
Franklin Field, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, hosted the game in the early twentieth century before it was moved to JFK. New York's Polo Grounds holds the record for most games hosted outside of Philadelphia, even though the last time it hosted one was 1925. The city of Baltimore has hosted a number of games throughout the history of the series as well, even though Baltimore is closer to Annapolis.
A Midshipman Production
The Rose Bowl is the only site west of the Mississippi River to host the Army–Navy game; it did so in 1983. The city of Pasadena, California, paid for the travel expenses of all the students and supporters of both academies – 9,437 in all. A substitute, however, for Bill XXII – the Navy mascot – and four rented Army mules were brought in. The attendance was 81,000. The game was held at the Rose Bowl that year because there are a large number of military installations and servicemen and women, along with many retired military personnel, on the West Coast. The game has been held one other time in a non-East Coast venue, at Chicago's Soldier Field, which played host to the 1926 game.
Currently the game is played primarily at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Since 1989, the game has been held roughly once every four or five years at a site other than Philadelphia. These sites have in the past rotated between Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (replaced in 2010 by MetLife Stadium, which has yet to host the game) and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. These are still considered neutral-site games, but provide locations that are closer to one academy or the other

Navy Midshipman (and later Admiral) Joseph Mason Reeves wore what is widely regarded as the first football helmet in the 1893 Army–Navy Game. He had been advised by a Navy doctor that another kick to his head would result in intellectual disability or even death, so he commissioned an Annapolis shoemaker to make him a helmet out of leather.
On November 27, 1926, the Army–Navy Game was held in Chicago for the National Dedication of Soldier Field as a monument to American servicemen who had fought in World War I. Navy came to the game undefeated, while West Point had only lost to Notre Dame, so the game would decide the National Championship. Played before a crowd of over 100,000, the teams fought to a 21–21 tie, but Navy was awarded the national championship.
In both the 1944 and 1945 contests, Army and Navy entered the game ranked #1 and #2 respectively. The 1945 game was labeled the "game of the century" before it was played. Army defeated a 7–0–1 Navy team 32–13. Navy's lone tie was against Notre Dame.
In 1963, shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy urged the academies to play after there had been talk of cancellation. Originally scheduled for November 30, 1963, the game was played on December 7, 1963 also coinciding with the 22nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. In front of a crowd of 102,000 people in Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium, later named John F. Kennedy Stadium, junior (second class Midshipman) quarterback Roger Staubach led number two ranked Navy to victory which clinched a Cotton Bowl national championship matchup with Texas played on January 1, 1964. Army was led by junior (second class Cadet) quarterback Rollie Stichweh. Stichweh led off the game with a touchdown drive that featured the first use of instant replay on television. Army nearly won the game after another touchdown and two point conversion, Stichweh recovered the onside kick and drove the ball to the Navy 2 yard line. On 4th down and no timeouts, crowd noise prevented Stichweh from calling a play and time expired with the 21–15 final score. Staubach won the Heisman Trophy that year and was bumped off the scheduled cover of Life magazine due to the coverage of the assassination. Stichweh and Staubach would meet again in 1964 as First Class where Stichweh's Army would defeat Staubach's Navy. Staubach went on to serve in the Navy and afterward became a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys. Stichweh served five years in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Stichweh was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.


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  3. Nice post! Phil McConkey was a helo driver in Jax in the early 80's, who ironically got seasick... He got out, saying he was going to go play pro football... Little did we know! :-)


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