Each season, college football saves its final weekend of regular season football for one of the game’s most iconic rivalries. Dating back to 1890, the Army/Navy game has been a staple of the college football calendar, with the two sides meeting a total of 118 times. Navy leads the all-time series, but recently, Army has been the one celebrating victory between the United States most prestigious military academies.
There are several traditions surrounding the contest, many dating back decades that highlight this fierce rivalry. One of the most iconic traditions is following the conclusion of the game when both teams remain on the field to sing their respective alma maters. What makes this tradition noteworthy is the winning school always sings second, while the losing side goes first.
One of the more recent traditions that has become a staple of this century long rivalry has been the uniform battle between the sides. Every year, both Army and Navy release a special uniform set to be worn for the game, with the new threads honoring the history of the respective service academies. For example, last season Army honored the historic 10th Mountain Division while Navy paid tribute to the legendary Blue Angels flight team.
Today, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Army and Navy will meet on the gridiron for the 199th time. Those decades long traditions will all be on display from pregame to the alma maters at the end. Included in those traditions once again is the fashion matchup between the two prestigious institutions with each side bringing the goods for fans to enjoy.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what both Army and Navy have to offer when they meet on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
Starting off with the designated visiting team, the Navy Midshipmen representing the Naval Academy from Annapolis, Maryland.
As the away side Navy will be wearing the standard road white color accented with the traditional blue and gold colors of the Naval Academy. You will surely notice their logo is prominently displayed on both the helmet and shoes. The uniform is a nod to “Bill the Goat” the official mascot of the Midshipmen.
Bill the Goat is also an actual goat that is housed on the Naval Academy campus and will in all likelihood be making the trip to Philadelphia for the contest. Bill is one of the marquee symbols associated with the Navy football program and it feels right that he is finally getting his due.
While the helmet and the shoes will be the most obvious places to look if you want to see the logo during the game, Navy will also place the logo on players’ gloves. Each glove will feature a part of the logo but when put together will display it in its entirety.
This uniform set is a great tribute to one of the most iconic symbols associated with the Naval Academy but the uniform still contains several other more traditional elements of the Navy football program. Along the the traditional Navy colors, the Navy “N*” is visible on the shoulders with the globe and anchor logo being placed on the left hip.
Bill the Goat has a long history, dating back well over 100 years, outdating the rivalry itself. His story and how he came to be a symbol of the Navy is best explained by the Academy itself.
“The Navy Goat mascot came to be in 1893 when officers from the USS New York, a United States Naval transport ship, gifted a goat named El Cid to the Naval Academy. The Naval Academy appointed this goat the honorary mascot for the fourth-ever Army-Navy game, in which Navy beat Army in a momentous victory. To commemorate the win, the goat was appointed team mascot and became a valued symbol of the Navy football program.”
To find out more history about Bill the Goat or the uniforms themselves, you can head on over the Navy Athletics website where they have a good explainer on the mascot and what went into the making of this year’s uniform design.
Switching sidelines, we turn our attention to the Army Black Knights representing the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.
Black is a traditional part of the Army football color scheme but red is most certainly not. However, there is a very good reason for it being a prominent part of this year’s Army uniforms.
Known as the Big Red One, the Army 1st Infantry Division was the first permanent division of the United States Army and played a vital role in helping end the First World War a century ago. Honoring the legacy of the 1st Infantry Division and their efforts in ending the Great War, Army will wear these special Big Red One uniforms when they take on Navy later today in Philadelphia.
The most distinguishable part signifying the Big Red One on the uniforms is the division insignia located on the crown of the helmets in the form of a red colored “1” along with the words “BIG RED ONE” on the right side of the chest.
On the both shoulders of these special Army uniforms you can see a black lion type design that is given a high gloss effect to stick out from the normal black the uniform consists of. This symbol is highly significant to the 1st Infantry Division as it pay homage to the “Black Lions of Cantigny” who were the first United States regiment to win a decisive victory during the country’s involvement World War I.
Another nod to the Division’s efforts during WWI can be seen on the back of the helmets being worn against Navy, where a WWI era flag decal will be featured. This flag features 48 stars, the number of states at the time of the conflict in 1918.
In total, seven regiments making up the 1st Infantry Division will be honored with special emblems are branch insignia worn by the players on the field. These emblems can be seen on the neckline of the Army uniforms.
It took almost three years of fighting before the United States became involved in the Great War, but when President Woodrow Wilson made the decision to send troops to Europe to fight, the Big Red One was formed.
“President Woodrow Wilson promised the Allies he would send “a division” to France immediately, but the Army had no such divisions. The United States quickly ordered four infantry and three artillery regiments from the Mexican border in Texas to Hoboken, N.J., to board transports to France. That group of seven regiments joined together to officially form the “1st Expeditionary Division,” later the 1st Infantry Division, under Brigadier General William L. Sibert on June 12, 1917. With more than 28,000 men, the “Big Red One,” as the division was later nicknamed from its shoulder sleeve insignia, was twice the size of either the allied or German divisions on the Western Front.”
To unveil the uniforms, Army dropped a slick video recreating a battle scene from the trenches of World War I in France.
To learn more about the 1st Infantry Division and the uniforms created to honor them, Army created an entire website dedicated to the Big Red One, detailing the history and significance of America’s first permanent military division.
When Army and Navy meet later this afternoon in Philadelphia, it will mean much more than just who wins and who loses. The young men playing will someday be fighting on the front lines to protect all that we hold dear as Americans.
For 60 minutes, they will do battle with one another while dressed to honor those who came before them. Someday in the near future, the battle will no longer be amongst one another, but against an enemy who wishes to bring only harm to them and their country.
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. Consider taking even a small amount of time during your Saturday afternoon to tune in and check out one of the greatest sporting spectacles the game of football has to offer.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 PM and the game will be broadcast live on CBS.
Best of luck to both the Cadets and Midshipmen. May the best Academy win. Don’t forget, winner sings second.