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Naval Academy Embraces the Goat in New Mascot-Inspired Uniform

The Midshipmen will take the field during December's Army-Navy game in new uniforms inspired by their 125-year-old mascot, Bill the Goat. Naval Academy Varsity Athletics image
The Midshipmen will take the field during December's Army-Navy game in new uniforms inspired by their 125-year-old mascot, Bill the Goat. Naval Academy Varsity Athletics image

The Navy Midshipmen are banking on the Army Black Knights' fear of the goat.

The Midshipmen will take the field during December's Army-Navy game in new uniforms inspired by their 125-year-old mascot, Bill the Goat. The Under Armour uniform features distinct details Navy Sports says "tells the mascot and academy story."

The white jersey features a blue sleeve with two gold stripes on the outside. The Navy logo is featured in the center of each sleeve.

That color-blocking look is a direct nod to the blanket the Navy's four-legged mascot sports during his on-field appearances, according to a news release. That image of a charging Billy the Goat wrapped in his blanket will be featured on both sides of the Midshipmen's helmets.

The white pants feature side stripes in the same colors found on the jersey sleeves, but in reverse. A gold stripe runs down the center side of the pant, framed by two navy blue outlines.

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The Naval Academy's goat pride dates back to 1893, when the Midshipmen won the Army-Navy game 6-4 after the team was gifted a goat named El Cid by officers aboard the transport ship New York. After the big win, the goat got its official start as the team's mascot, and several bearded versions have fulfilled the duty since.

In 1953, sixty years after the Midshipmen got El Cid, the Academy's mascot made headlines when it was kidnapped a week before the Army-Navy game. It was taken by a group of West Point cadets who stashed it in the back of a convertible. They were found out when they stopped for gas and an attendant spotted the goat after it jumped up, its horns piercing the car's soft top, according to Vice Sports.

When the cadets made it back to West Point, they paraded the goat through the dining hall to a cheering crowd. But one former Black Knight was not impressed: President Dwight D. Eisenhower quickly ordered the goat be returned to the Naval Academy.

The Navy has carefully guarded its mascots since.

Chief petty officer (CPO) selectees assigned to various commands at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam stand in formation in 2013 alongside Charlie the goat, representing the CPO organization. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)
Charlie the goat represented the CPO organization in 2013. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan/Navy

The Navy's love for goat continues to cause controversy today. The commanding officer of the cruiser Lake Erie was the subject of a 2015 investigation after he allowed a pygmy goat, the ship's de facto mascot, to remain aboard as it sailed from Hawaii to San Diego, Navy Times reported. The decision to harbor the goat on the cruiser ran afoul of California's rules on transporting domesticated goats into the state.

Whether the Black Knights will indeed #FearTheGoat, as the Midshipmen's social-media hashtag suggests, remains to be seen. West Point has not yet unveiled its team's new uniforms for the Army-Navy game.

Last year, Army paid homage to the Pando Commandos of the 10th Mountain Division, with all-white uniforms. The Navy's 2017 uniforms were inspired by the Blue Angels.

Navy fans can purchase their own goat-inspired gear for this year's game in the Navy's online sports shop or on the Under Armour website.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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