November 29, 1890|
Navy 24, Army 0
December 9, 2017|
Army 14, Navy 13
|Next meeting||December 8, 2018|
Lincoln Financial Field (2017–2020, 2022)|
MetLife Stadium (2021)
|Trophy||Third leg of triangular series for Commander-in-Chief's Trophy|
|All-time series||Navy leads, 60–51–7|
|Largest victory||Navy, 51–0 (1973)|
|Longest win streak||Navy, 14 (2002–2015)|
|Current win streak||Army, 2 (2016–present)|
The Army–Navy Game is an American college football rivalry game between the Army Black Knights of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York, and the Navy Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy (USNA) at Annapolis, Maryland. The Black Knights (alternatively, the "Cadets") and Midshipmen each represent their service's oldest officer commissioning sources. As such, the game has come to embody the spirit of the interservice rivalry of the United States Armed Forces. The game marks the end of the college football regular season and the third and final game of the season's Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series, which also includes the Air Force Falcons of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Army–Navy game is one of the most traditional and enduring rivalries in college football. It has been frequently attended by sitting U.S. presidents. The game has been nationally televised each year since 1945 on either ABC, CBS or NBC. CBS has televised the game since 1996 and has the rights to the broadcast through 2028. Instant replay made its American debut in the 1963 Army–Navy game. Since 2009, the game has been held the Saturday following FBS conference championship weekend.
The game has been held in multiple locations, but outside the 1926 game in Chicago and 1983 game in Pasadena, California, it has been played in the Northeast megalopolis, most frequently in Philadelphia, followed by the New York area and the Baltimore–Washington area. The series has been marked by several periods of domination by one team or the other, with Navy's 14-game winning streak from 2002 through 2015 being the longest for either side. Through the 2017 meeting, Navy leads the series 60–51–7.
Army and Navy first met on the field on November 29, 1890. They played 30 times between that date and November 26, 1927. The series has been renewed annually since 1930. The game 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 FBS 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 no longer conflicts with conference championship games and once again is the last non-bowl contest in college football.
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, 2016 and 2017 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 1930, 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. Most players are required to fulfill a post-graduation active duty military commitment and, by the time this ends, many players are deemed too old to consider playing competitively again. 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 starting at quarterback in two Super Bowl victories including being named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI. Wide receiver and return specialist 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 complete 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. Running back Kyle Eckel (Navy, 2005) was a two-time Army-Navy Game MVP and played in the Super Bowl twice during a five year career, once with the team who originally signed him, the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, and winning the other with the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.
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 they sometimes play in a subsequent bowl game). During wartime the game is even more emotional, as some seniors may face combat and perhaps die after they graduate. Recognition of those who share the uniform and are deployed overseas is an important part of the day.
At the end of the game, both teams' almae matres are played and sung. The winning team stands alongside the losing team and faces the losing academy's 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. The cadets live and breathe the phrase "Beat Navy!" while for midshipmen the opposite phrase, "Beat Army!" is ingrained. 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.
The game is the last of three contests in the annual Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series, awarded to each season's winner of the triangular series between Army, Navy, and Air Force since 1972. In years when Navy and Army have each beaten Air Force before the Army–Navy Game (1972, 1977, 1978, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2017) the Army-Navy game has also determined whether Army or Navy would win this trophy. In years when Air Force has split its two games, the Army-Navy game determines whether the trophy is shared or won outright by the winner of the game.
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 USAFA, established in 1954, and the physical distance between the USAFA and the other two schools. The Army–Air Force and Navy–Air Force games are usually played at the academies' regular home fields, although on occasion they have been held at a neutral field.
Navy won 14 Army-Navy games in a row from 2002 to 2015, the longest winning streak in the history of the series. On December 10, 2016, Army snapped its 14-game losing streak against Navy with a 21–17 victory.
Philadelphia has been the traditional home of the Army-Navy game. Eighty-seven of 118 games have been contested in Philadelphia including every game from 1932-1982 excepting three that were relocated due to World War II travel restrictions. Philadelphia is typically selected as the site due to the historic nature of the city and the fact that it is approximately halfway between West Point and Annapolis. For decades, the Pennsylvania Railroad and its successors offered game-day service to all Army–Navy games in Philadelphia using a sprawling temporary station constructed each year near the South Philadelphia Sports Complex on the railroad's 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.
All games contested in Philadelphia through 1935 were played at Franklin Field, the home field of the University of Pennsylvania. From 1936 through 1979, all games contested in Philadelphia were held in Municipal Stadium, renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium in 1964. From 1980-2001, all games contested in Philadelphia were hosted by Veterans Stadium. Since 2003, all games contested in Philadelphia have been played in Lincoln Financial Field.
Only six games have ever been held on the campus of either academy, primarily because neither team plays at an on-campus stadium large enough to accommodate the large crowds that attend the game. Army's Michie Stadium seats only 38,000, while Navy's Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium seats only 34,000. The rivalry's first four games were hosted on the parade grounds of the respective academies and two games were held on campus due to World War II travel restrictions (1942 at Navy's old Thompson Stadium and 1943 at Michie Stadium).
Outside of Philadelphia, the New York area has been the most frequent Army-Navy site. The Polo Grounds holds the record for most games hosted outside of Philadelphia with nine, hosting all New York City games through 1927. Yankee Stadium hosted the game in 1930 and 1931. New Jersey has hosted five games; 1905 at Osborne Field at Princeton University and four games at Giants Stadium from 1989-2002.
Maryland has hosted a number of games throughout the history of the series as well. In Baltimore, Municipal Stadium hosted the 1924 and 1944 games and M&T Bank Stadium has hosted four games since 2000. In Landover, FedExField hosted the game in 2011.
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. 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.
All games through 2020 will be held at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey will host the 2021 game. The game will then return to Lincoln Financial Field for 2022. Games beyond 2022 have yet to be awarded.
Total games by venue and geography
|Venue||Games||Army victories||Navy victories||Tie games||First game||Most recent game|
|John F. Kennedy Stadium||41||16||22||3||1936||1979|
|Lincoln Financial Field||11||1||10||0||2003||2017|
|M&T Bank Stadium||4||1||3||0||2000||2016|
|Municipal Stadium (Baltimore)||2||2||0||0||1924||1944|
|City||Games||Army victories||Navy victories||Tie games||First game||Most recent game|
|New York City||11||7||3||1||1913||1931|
|East Rutherford, New Jersey||4||1||3||0||1989||2002|
|West Point, New York||3||0||3||0||1890||1943|
|Princeton, New Jersey||1||0||0||1||1905||1905|
|State||Games||Army victories||Navy victories||Tie games||First game||Most recent game|
|CSA||Games||Army victories||Navy victories||Tie games||First game||Most recent game|
|New York–Newark, NY–NJ–CT–PA||19||8||9||2||1890||2002|
|Los Angeles–Long Beach, CA||1||0||1||0||1983||1983|
|Army victories||Navy victories||Tie games|
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 renamed 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 replayon 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.
On December 10, 2016, Army beat Navy 21–17, snapping Navy's 14-year winning streak.
- List of NCAA college football rivalry games
- Army–Navy Cup, a college soccer game between the same schools, also in Philadelphia
- Army Mules
- Bill the Goat
- Commander-in-Chief's Trophy
- List of Army–Navy Game broadcasters
- Most-played rivalries in NCAA Division I FBS
- Other neutral site rivalries:
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- "History of the Football Helmet" from Past Time Sports. Accessed Jan 1,2010
- Nimitz Library | U. S. Naval Academy Archival Images: Army Navy Football: 1926. Accessed Dec 31, 2009 Archived January 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- [verification needed]Unknown writer (undated). "Games Where #1 Faced #2" Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine. kiko13.com (fansite). Accessed December 24, 2009.
- "Middies All Hepped Up to Knock Over Cadets". Los Angeles Times, November 27, 1945. "Navy, far from conceding next Saturday's football 'game of the century' to Army, will field a spirited, offense-minded team determined to win and 'not merely hold down the score,' Public Relations Chief Lt. William Sullivan said today."
- Norlander, Matt. "Film on '63 Army-Navy game shows impact of rivalry, JFK tragedy". CBS Sports. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
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