Army-Navy Game: A Rivalry That Almost Wasn't

Army-Navy game

What has become revered as "America's Game" got off to a rough start that nearly ended the contest before it became legendary.

Who doesn't love a good football rivalry? It has drama. It has passion. It has last-second scores and mind-numbing blowouts.

And it has history. Lots of it.

USC-Notre Dame, Michigan-Ohio State, Stanford-Cal, Georgia-Florida, Oklahoma-Texas and Auburn-Alabama all have tales of bitter rivalries and devoted fans who take winning seriously. But none of these esteemed schools were ever ordered by our nation's leaders to cease playing because of a near duel between high-ranking officials.

Only Army-Navy carries that kind of history.

And, while there is no longer a threat of armed conflict between the academies, make no mistake: The midshipmen and cadets are prepared for a gridiron battle and bragging rights that last a lifetime when they meet for the 113th time, this year in Philadelphia (Dec. 8, CBS, 3 p.m. EST).

An Argument That Made History

But one of college football's most storied rivalries almost wasn't.

It all started back in 1890 when Cadet Dennis Mahan Michie and his newly formed Army football team agreed to play the Naval Academy. The experienced Navy team had been going strong for more than a decade when the two academies met for the first time on the gridiron at West Point on Nov. 29, 1890.

They played one other game before the fateful third contest in 1893, when Navy beat Army 6-4 at Annapolis.

The emotional climax led to a reputed dust-up between a Navy rear admiral and an Army brigadier general. That near-duel prompted President Grover Cleveland to call a Cabinet meeting in late February 1894. That discussion ended with the Secretary of the Navy Hillary A. Herbert and Secretary of War Daniel S. Lamont issuing orders to prohibit the Army and Navy teams from "engaging in games elsewhere."

In other words, Army and Navy were restricted to home games and, consequently, from playing each other. The ban lasted five years, the longest interruption in the game's history.

You Can't Keep a Good Rivalry Down

Fast forward to 1899. With the moratorium lifted, Philadelphia emerged as the neutral locale for the Army-Navy Game, and the rivalry began anew. Since then, the game has been played at Franklin Field, Municipal Stadium (later JFK Stadium), Veterans Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia continues to be the primary host and the home of what has become known as "America's Game."

Few football contests call to mind the pomp and circumstance of the Army-Navy matchup. From the March On and the pregame cadet-midshipmen exchange to the tradition of the commander-in-chief changing sides at halftime, the game is a great display of ceremonial grandeur and rich, military tradition.

Whether you take sides or watch for the sheer excitement of the game, you're sure to feel the shared sense of fervor and patriotism as fans shout throughout the stadium: "Beat Navy!" and "Beat Army!"

Army-Navy Football Facts:

Navy leads series 56-49-7 Largest margin of victory: Navy 51–0 (1973) Highest scoring game: Navy 58–12 (2002)

Last 10 match-ups:

2002: Navy 58–12, Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 2003: Navy 34–6, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2004: Navy 42–13, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2005: Navy 42–23, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2006 Navy 26–14, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2007 Navy 38–3, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD 2008 Navy 34–0, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2009 Navy 17–3, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2010 Navy 31–17, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2011 Navy 27–21, FedEx Field, Landover, MD


USAA Sweepstakes: Enter to Win Free Tickets

A USAA member and three guests have the opportunity to experience the game and all its fanfare by becoming part of USAA's 1st and Goal Sweepstakes. To participate, all you have to do is use the Emergency Fund Savings Goal or the Retirement Planner by Nov. 9. You'll be automatically entered to win the grand prize:

  • A trip for four to the Dec. 8, 2012, Army-Navy game.
  • Tickets to the Army-Navy Game Gala on Dec. 7, 2012.
  • An exclusive field tour.
  • $5,000 spending money.
  • Army-Navy game merchandise.
  • A free financial plan -- a $1,500 value.

Why are we doing this? Well, just as the Army-Navy football players have to plan and prepare for their annual game, you, too, need to plan and prepare for a different type of game -- the game of life. And that means doing something that isn't as fun as watching a football game: saving money for retirement or for the proverbial rainy day. So, we've tried to make it easier for you with these online tools. Check them out and, in the process, you just might end up a winner on both fronts.


Eligibility: Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia who are 18+, or the age of majority in their state of residence, whichever is older, and are physically located and residing in the U.S. at the time of the prize drawing. Timing: Starts 12:00:00 a.m. CT on 10/1/12, ends 11:59:59 p.m. CT on 11/9/12 ("Promotion Period"). Entry: There are two ways to enter, but a limit of one entry per person. (1) Visit and complete either the Retirement Planner tool (20-minute version) or the Emergency Fund Savings Goal tool during the Promotion Period. Completion of any other calculator or tool will NOT result in entry. (2) Neatly print or type your full name, address, date of birth, daytime telephone number (including area code), and email address (optional) on a plain 3" x 5" piece of paper and mail to: "Project Support Team" by November 16, 2012 addressed to: USAA 1st and Goals Sweepstakes Entry, PO Box 16188, Bridgeport, CT 06673-6188. Entries must be received by 11/16/12. Drawing: A drawing will be conducted on or about 11/19/12 and potential winners will be notified the next day. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. One Grand Prize: A trip for four to the Army-Navy game, including airfare, hotel for two nights, up to four tickets to the game, a $5,000 check, Army-Navy merchandise, and a Comprehensive Financial Plan (for winner only). ARV: $11,930. If the winner cannot attend the game, the prize will be forfeit in its entirety. Three First Prizes: A Comprehensive Financial Plan and Army-Navy merchandise. ARV of each First Prize: $1,500 each. General: Winners may be required to sign additional documents to receive a prize. Additional prize details apply. For complete Official Rules, see or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to "USAA 1st and Goals Sweepstakes RULES, PO Box 13106, Bridgeport, CT 06673-3106." Financial planning services and financial advice provided by USAA Financial Planning Services Insurance Agency, Inc.; USAA Financial Planning Services Insurance Agency Inc. (known as USAA Financial Insurance Company in California, Lic. #0E36312), a registered investment advisor and insurance agency; and its wholly owned subsidiary, USAA Financial Advisors Inc., a registered broker dealer. Sponsor: United Services Automobile Association, 9800 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78288. ©2012 USAA, All rights reserved.

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