In a cold, damp outdoor courtyard, Commander, Navy Region Northwest Rear Adm. Gary Mayes exhorted the 2016 Navy Region Flag Football team to beat Army in its annual grudge match scheduled for Friday Nov. 18. The game is scheduled to be played at Joint Base Lewis – McChord.
Since the year 2000, Navy leads the series 9 wins to the Army’s 6. Navy has convincingly won the last three games in row, including two shut-outs and is hoping for a “four-peat” this year. In 2013 Navy won 9 to 0. In 2014 Navy won 29 to 9. And in 2015 Navy won 21 to 0.
The Navy and Army may be brothers in arms on fields afar, but for the annual flag football game, they aren’t even friends.
“We are a team in everything we do,” he said. “We play like a team, we fight like a team. Have fun fellows, but don’t come back without a championship.”
That “other” Army vs. Navy football game may have a slightly longer history, but the players on the Navy Region flag football team are just as ready to take on the Army. In that “other” Army vs. Navy football game between the teams of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York and the United States Naval Academy (USNA) at Annapolis, Maryland Navy currently leads the series 60–49–7. In the 116 game series which began in 1890, the longest win streak belongs to Navy, at 14 games from 2002–present. Traditionally, the game is played in Philadelphia, due to the historic nature of the city and the fact that it is approximately halfway between West Point and Annapolis.
The annual Army-Navy game is one of the most traditional and enduring rivalries in college football. The game is considered a college football institution. Navy Midshipman (and later Admiral) Joseph Mason Reeves wore what is widely regarded as the first football helmet in the 1893 Army–Navy Game. He had been advised by a Navy doctor that another kick to his head would result in “instant insanity” or even death, so he commissioned an Annapolis shoemaker to make him a helmet out of leather.
On November 27, 1926, the Army–Navy Game was held in Chicago for the National Dedication of Soldier Field as a monument to American servicemen who had fought in World War I. Navy came to the game undefeated, while West Point had only lost to Notre Dame, so the game would decide the National Championship. Played before a crowd of over 100,000, the teams fought to a 21–21 tie, but Navy was awarded the national championship.
Some participants in the Army–Navy Game have gone on to professional football careers. Quarterback Roger Staubach (Navy, 1965) went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys that included being named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI. Wide receiver and kickoff/punt returner Phil McConkey (Navy, 1979) was a popular player on the New York Giants’ squad that won Super Bowl XXI. Running back Napoleon McCallum (Navy, 1985) was able to concurrently serve his commitment to the Navy and play for the then-Los Angeles Raiders in 1986.