The Army-Navy Game has been marked on Duke Cannon’s calendar every December for as long as he can remember—and not just because it’s the only football on TV that day. Beyond the disciplined play and gritty execution, the game is a genuine historical event rife with two of Duke Cannon’s favorite things: traditions and shenanigans. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with some of the lesser-known elements of this long-standing rivalry before settling in to watch the 124th installment of America’s Game tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. ET on CBS. Duke Cannon is a Participating Partner of the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA.
A BREAK IN THE ACTION
The rivalry began in 1890, but an intense 1893 game (which Navy won 6-4) created such ill will that an Army General and a retired Navy Admiral nearly fought a duel over it, leading to a six-year pause. The Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy had to intervene, but ultimately cooler heads prevailed, with the game resuming in 1899.
THE YEARLY PRISONER EXCHANGE
This tradition dates to 1945, and here’s how it works: prior to kick off, the Navy Midshipmen who spend the semester at West Point and the Army Cadets who spend the semester in Annapolis are brought to midfield. Academy leaders then exchange their ‘prisoners’ so the students can cheer on their teams in their own student section.
A GREAT HEIST AND AN EPIC PAYBACK
In 1990 a crew of 10 Army Cadets engaged in a “spirit mission” to steal Navy’s mascot—Bill the Goat XXVII. They were successful, but within days, the heat of the investigation intensified, the goat was released, and the cadets were disciplined for “misappropriating the Navy goat.”
As retaliation, in 1991 a group of 17 Midshipmen hatched an intricate plan to apprehend Army’s pack of mascots—four 1,000-pound mules. They tied up Army employees, loaded the beasts of burden in vehicles, and sped back to Annapolis. The mules were eventually returned unharmed.
BURNING OF A NAVAL SHIP
On the Friday night before the game, students at West Point have a bonfire. Not with a cord of common hardwoods, however. Rather, they revel in the torching of a large wooden ship that they assemble and paint to look like a Navy vessel.
THE ANNUAL FOOTBALL RUN
For many years the Naval Academy has assembled a team to run a football from the academy in Annapolis to the game location. This year, nearly 200 Midshipmen are running 450 brisk miles from Annapolis to Foxborough, Massachusetts, where they are due to arrive tomorrow morning.
Both teams sing the alma mater of each school with the losing team’s song being sung first as a show of sportsmanship (the winners sing second). This is done out of respect to honor the fallen of each branch because, after all, no matter how fierce this rivalry gets, everyone involved has been called to a greater, united, cause.
Source link: https://dukecannon.com/blogs/journal/history-tradition-and-pranks-inside-the-army-navy-football-game by Zeb Pirkey at dukecannon.com