A few years ago, Brent Musburger opened the broadcast for this rivalry saying “There is no bowl game at stake here. There is no coalition poll, no number one ranking. No Heisman Trophy is at stake either. This game is bigger than all of that.” This is the greatest rivalry in sports
This weekend will mark the 115th meeting in this rivalry. Neither team is ranked and none of the players in the game are in the race for the Heisman. One team will be heading to a bowl and enters the game at 6-5 and the other team enters at 4-7. The records are no matter though when it comes to Army and Navy.
I will tune in on Saturday. I do not know any of the players names on either side. I have not read about any of these players taking cash, signing autographs, or any of the other outside nonsense we hear at other schools. Ninety nine percent of the men who play in this game will never play in the NFL and for the seniors on these squads, this is sometimes the last time they ever put on a football uniform.
You are not going to see flashy offenses or overpowering defenses. You are not going to see SEC speed and athletes. But you will see the Cadets take the field and you will see the Midshipmen take the field. You will see both schools who have a mutual respect for each other. And you will see intensity as high in this game as it will be for any other game you have watched this year. You will see two teams that want to beat the heck out of each other. Two teams full of men that are willing to fight for the flag, two teams full of men willing to die for the country.
This game means everything to both schools on Saturday and forever. I came across this story from Army graduate and Duke men’s basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski about his pregame speech he gave to his Duke team in 1986 when they faced David Robinson and Navy. In the locker room prior to the game, Krzyzewski talked to his team about the opponent as he always does before a game. He said very little about their offense, their defense or even about Robinson. “I want you guys to understand something,” Krzyzewski said. “There is no group of players in the country I respect more than the players in that other locker room. There is no way any of you can understand what they have gone through and how amazing it is that they are in this game. Every single one of them is a remarkable person. I know that without ever having met them.”
He paused. “Now, I want to tell you one more thing. If you don’t go out there and kick their butts for 40 minutes, don’t even bother coming back in here. Because they’re Navy. I’m Army. I do not accept EVER losing to Navy.”
That story showed how intense and how much pride there is in this rivalry. That sums up Army-Navy. There is nothing else like it.
The game itself is one thing. What happens when the clock hits 0:00 is another thing. Its absolutely chilling. Both teams walk to each side of the field as one to hear both alma maters. The losing team goes first followed by a trip to the winners side. You will see emotions on players faces like you wont see anywhere else. Players from both sides hugging, winners and losers crying on each others shoulders. Raw emotion everywhere. That is Army-Navy.
Below is a youtube video from the game in 2012. Navy had beaten Army 10 straight times. Army was 10 yards away from taking the lead late in the game when the quarterback #8 Trent Steelman fumbled. Navy recovered and ran out the final seconds. This video sums up the emotions and respect that is Army – Navy
Two teams will run on to the field Saturday. One team with Army on their jersey and one team with Navy on their jersey. When the clock hits 0:00, they will leave as friends, teammates, heroes, and with one name on their jersey- The United States of America.
For anyone who wants to delve more into the rivalry, I highly recommend John Feinstein’s book A Civil War Army vs Navy. He follows both schools throughout a season and documents everything they go through. Absolutely incredible book.
Also, Showtime did a documentary on the Game of Honor, the episode is below