Today the 114th meeting between Army and Navy will take place in Philadelphia, PA. One of the nation’s oldest football rivalries, the rivalry between the United States Naval Academy and United States Military Academy began in 1890. Every December the Navy Midshipmen and Army Cadets meet to play in one of the greatest games in all of American sports.
After a particularly intense game in 1893, which drew a large crowd of 8,000, animosities between the two academies were high. So high, that a brigadier general and a retired rear admiral came close to fighting a duel.
The game was canceled for six years by order of the secretary of war and secretary of the Navy.
After their ‘football time out’, both sides had learned their lessons and the game resumed in 1899 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, PA in front of 27,000 spectators.
The photo shows the Navy goat and the Army mule wishing each other good luck, in their own peculiar language, before the game. (Image by Bettmann).
As they met again in 1899, the Navy football team appeared with a mascot, a handsome if smelly goat. Army fans looked hastily for a mascot of their own. The Army mule was already legendary for its roughness and endurance, so the mule was obvious.
A quartermaster in Philadelphia stopped a passing ice truck, and, just like that, the big white mule pulling it became the first Army mascot.
Dolled up in leggings, a collar and a gray blanket, with black gold and gray streamers fluttering from his ears, this mule met the Navy goat and – according to West Point legend – “hoisted that astonished goat toward the Navy stands to the delight of the laughing crowd.” Army went on to win the game 17-5 (via The Army Football Club).
The rivalry between West Point and Annapolis, is extraordinarily intense, but also one of mutual respect.
Duty. Honor. Country.
This year’s 114th meeting, just like those in the past, will mark the last time that most of both teams Seniors will ever step on a football field. After this, they will not be participating in NFL drafts, but moving on to active service for their country, many deploying to combat theaters.
This is not just about football.
Both Army and Navy are playing for the same team.
The United States of America.
Navy leads the all-time series with a record of 57 wins, 49 losses, and seven ties.
Random trivia: who knew that eventually the iconic “NAVY” lettering, and his Army opponent’s striped sleeves, would go on to inspire a thousand fashion designers? The classic jerseys of this golden era found their way onto more than a few inspiration boards with fashion designers Ralph Lauren and Polo and Tommy Hilfiger.
Carey Lohrenz is the author of the Wall Street Journal Best Seller “Fearless Leadership: High-Performance Lessons from the Flight Deck.”, a motivational speaker and leadership expert.
Carey has flown missions worldwide as a combat-mission-ready United States Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot. Her extensive experience operating in one of the world’s most challenging environments, an aircraft carrier, and her unique position as one of the first female combat pilots make her the perfect opening or closing inspirational keynote speaker for your corporate meeting or conference.
Carey graduated from the University of Wisconsin where she was a varsity rower, also training at the Pre-Olympic level. After graduation, she attended the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School before starting flight training and her naval career. She is the mother of four kids, and is currently working on her Master’s in Business Administration in Strategic Leadership.