One of the best traditions in college football is the annual game between the United States Military Academy (Army) and the United States Naval Academy (Navy), played on the final weekend of the regular season each year.
The tradition is so sacred, the game has the whole weekend to itself. Army/Navy is the only game on the docket for the second Saturday in December.
Over the years, the annual Army/Navy game has become one of the most exciting and thrilling games of the season, despite the lack of serious implications based on the result. Neither side will compete for a national championship, but for the players on the field this is the single most important day of their college football careers.
In over a century of battles between the two bitter rivals many great moments have been born. Most recently, it was Navy’s 14 game win streak between 2002-2015 and the subsequent end to that win streak last season, a 21-17 Army victory that sent West Point into a year long frenzy.
Since its inception in 1890, Army and Navy have played 117 times on the gridiron, with Navy leading the overall series 60-50-7. The teams will meet for a 118th time this Saturday, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Like most of college football over the past two decades, the Army/Navy game is not only a football game but also a fashion show of sorts. In fact, it has become one of the best dressed games of every college football season. The traditional black & gold of Army and the navy blue & gold of Navy is set aside for more modern threads. If you’re going to play the biggest game of you life, you might as well be dressed for the occasion.
This year is no different, as both sides are going all out to look their absolute best for Saturday’s contest. Let’s have a look:
We’ll start with the visitors for Saturday’s clash, the Army Black Knights of West Point.
As always, the uniforms are a nod to a historic fighting division within the United States Army. These uniforms are an ode to the 10th Mountain Division, who trained and fought in extreme conditions during World War II.
The all-white design represents the conditions the 10th Mountain Division typically fought in, snow covered peaks where disguise was one of their biggest attributes.
Another major nod to the historic 10th division is on the shoes the players will be wearing on Saturday, a small logo with a skiing panda bear.
The significance of the logo is explained best by the Army itself…
“The 85th, 86th and 87th Infantry Regiments joined together in Pando, Colorado on July 13, 1943 to form the 10th Light Division (Alpine). Soldiers at Camp Hale trained at 9,200 feet, honing their skills to fight and survive in the most brutal mountain conditions.”
“The panda bear is the mascot of Camp Hale, Colorado. The Railroad stop at Camp Hale was officially Pando, Colorado. While the division was at Camp Hale, this unofficial insignia appeared everywhere on signs, buildings, and even the division newspaper. Since the design was a cartoon, it was not accepted by the Army’s heraldry office.”
Army never shies away from honoring those who came before them and these uniforms are no different. Being the away team and wearing white was the perfect opportunity to honor a division who played a key role in the Allies victory during World War II, fighting in some of the nastiest conditions one could imagine.
You can learn more about the uniforms and the 10th mountain division at the Army’s official website for the uniform or by watching the video below produced by the Army, announcing the uniforms last week:
— ArmyWestPoint Sports (@GoArmyWestPoint) December 4, 2017
Now, let’s switch sides and check out the uniforms for the home side Navy Midshipmen from the Naval Academy.
If the blue and yellow color scheme looks familiar then you will probably realize the uniforms are dedicated to the U.S. Navy’s flight team, the Blue Angels.
The Blue Angels are a world renowned flight team, performing at air shows all across the United States in their very distinct blue and yellow fighter jets. While Army went completely away from their school colors this year, the Navy stayed similar with the Blue Angels color scheme.
Even the helmets are derived from the Blue Angels…
Here is the unveil video provided by the Navy Athletic Department on Twitter…
— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) November 27, 2017
If you have never seen the Blue Angels in action you can find a treasure trove of videos on YouTube of them performing during various air shows across the country. They are one of the premier flying teams in the world and are immediately recognizable with their unique blue and yellow paint job on their fighter jets. The Navy football team will be honoring them on Saturday against their bitter rivals with these special uniforms.
Navy will be taking it one step further this weekend with a special game ball honoring the Blue Angels…
Saturday’s tilt between two of the oldest military institutions in our country’s history will undoubtedly be one of the best dressed events in all of college football this season as it is every season.
This isn’t simply a gimmick for either side to sell jerseys and make money, this is a moment for them to honor those who came before them while playing in the biggest game of their lives.
These young men are the future military leaders of our great country and will be sacrificing their lives to protect our freedoms, they earned this day. That’s what makes this game so special.
When the game kicks off Saturday afternoon you’ll see two teams playing for much more than a trophy or bragging rights, they’ll be playing to honor those who paid the ultimate price so we as Americans can enjoy the freedoms we do.
Best of luck to both the Cadets and Midshipmen. May the best Academy win. Don’t forget, winner sings second.