Why is the Army-Navy game played in Philadelphia?
Well, geographically it sort of makes sense. Pennsylvania is located between West Point, NY and Annapolis, MD. But the answer according to the men about to descend on Lincoln Financial Field for the 118th meeting of the two proud schools (the 86th game played in Philly) is just like most other answers given by cadets in the Naval Academy or at Army West Point — because that’s how things are done.
“When I think of the Army Navy game I think about this place,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We have played so many games here. It’s been great fit us and the city of Philadelphia has been great to our school, our program. They have embraced us and we love playing here.”
“Philadelphia is a great city and this city really embraces the Army Navy game,” Army’s head coach Jeff Monken added. “I think the people of Philadelphia feel this game belongs to them and that’s neat.”
With the game slated to be played in Philly at least until 2020, there is a lot of history to the rivalry — but the most notable chapter, at least with relevancy for the upcoming match up, at 3 p.m. on CBS, comes from Baltimore last year.
That’s when Army finally ended 14-year losing streak.
“It’s not a rivalry unless you win sometimes,” Monken said, recalling a 21-17 victory back in 2016. “It also really boosted the confidence of our team and the program because for 14 years — as it happens over and over and over again there becomes this opinion that your program is inferior.”
No one would argue that anyone on either Army (8-3) or Navy (6-5) is inferior in any way. The two programs boast the best and brightest the nation has to offer and the oneness with the armed forces American shares is one of the things that makes the rivalry such a special time of year every December.
“We have Army and Navy, two programs playing eachother but I think we are playing for the military in general,” John Voit, a captain and defensive lineman for Army said. “You come out and play for so much more. It’s called America’s game for a reason.”
No two football teams have so much in common — and no two hate one another as much prior to doing battle. The dynamic combined competitiveness and patriotism and truly is a special situation as far as American sports go.
“The number one thing that makes this different from other rivalries is, off the field we are bothers in arms,” Navy captain and linebacker D.J. Palmore said. “We are essentially a team, but this is the only time we get to compete against eachother and the only chance we get to win something and hold it over their heads.”