For those of us fed up with the National Football League, but who still love the game, Saturday’s Army vs. Navy smash mouth battle in Philadelphia was an exhilarating breath of cold, snow filled air. It was, on almost every level, the opposite of what we’ve come to expect in NFL. Watching served as a truly stirring antidote.
The pomp and ceremony were, as usual, patriotic and spectacular. The outcome was unknown until the final play of a game won by the Cadets, 14-13.
The Midshipmen roared onto the field carrying the Stars and Stripes, and a Gadsden Flag. They honored the Blue Angles by wearing blue uniforms. Army raced out carrying the American Flag and dressed mostly in all white. Their tribute was to the 10th Mountain Division. Given the playing conditions, their choice was perfect. During WW II, that group of men, were trained to fight in brutally, cold snowy conditions at very high elevations. Both teams were honoring the proud legacy of some of their most courageous warriors.
This contest couldn’t have been farther from a pass-happy, pro game filled with penalties and self-centered celebrations. Navy passed the ball 2 times for a total of 1 yard. Army passed once for 20 yards. There were 95 rushing attempts combined, and even with the awful conditions, not a single turnover. The Cadets took a pair of penalties for a total of 10 yards. The Midshipmen got called for 4, costing 25 yards.
In a game where touchdowns, and big plays were scarce, it was really illustrative to see how
Malcolm Perry reacted following a truly spectacular TD run. Navy’s 5’9”, 185 pound quarterback broke tackles and scampered 68 yards to the end zone. Remaining poised, Perry kept the ball tucked “high and tight” into his chest well after his score, before then handing it to a referee. There was no dancing, no obscene displays, no taunting the other team.
But maybe the most moving and thoughtful view of this game, and the sport in general came before kickoff. It was the kind of insightful perspective only parents seeing their children selflessly willing to offer their lives in service to their nation could offer.
CBS TV produced a spectacular 5 minute introduction to the 118th Army Navy Game. In it Moms and Dads shared their thoughts, feelings, pride, and fears. They were all compelling, but one dad said something that was absolutely a quote for the ages. John Trainor, a police captain in New Jersey, and father of Cadet running back, John Trainor declared, “It’s the only game that everyone’s playing it, is willing to die for everyone who’s watching it.” If you’ve got a few minutes please watch the whole thing.
But if you’re in a rush, John’s simply put, profound remark can be found at around the 2:20 mark.
Since 1890, the Army/Navy game has celebrated those who have committed their lives to protecting our country.
For the 118th time, it’s much more than just a football game. pic.twitter.com/f8ruphRpUd
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 9, 2017
It should be mandatory viewing for every pro athlete, especially those “suiting up” in the NFL.