Sunday, December 16, 2012

The 2012 Army/Navy Game - A Whole New Adventure

Last Saturday, December 9, 2012, was one of the coolest days of my life. Call me weird, but before that day, I had never attended a football game. Not even a high school football game. You may say that I was a deprived child, but the only games we would ever go to in my family would be baseball games because there were six of us and it was cheaper that way. Don't get me wrong, I've been in a football stadium before, but I had never watched a game, but this game I went to was special. It had a lot of sentimental meaning, and I am so glad that this was a first.

My Dad was in the United States Navy, and he (most of the time my Mom) and several of his buddies from the Navy would go to the Army/Navy Game every year or so. For those who swear by college football, you know how crazy things can get with fans. My Dad would go nuts with facepaint (and if you knew him personally, you wouldn't be shocked about this) and based on things that I had seen the day I had attended, there were tailgaters having shot contests (I do not make this up). Because my Dad passed away in October of 2011, we had wondered if we were ever going to experience these games again.

Lucky for us, my family and I do not live too far from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, which is the halfway point between the Naval Academy and West Point. Before Lincoln Financial Field was constructed, a lot of the games were played at Veterans Stadium, which was literally a dump. A lot of us can remember when the stadium literally started falling apart during the game. Every couple of years, the game would be played in various places, like East Rutherford, NJ, Baltimore, MD, the DC area, and they were even played out in California many decades ago. This year, we all decided that we would attend this game as a family, and we all pitched in money to buy tickets, and a couple of weeks later, we got our tickets to the Army/Navy Game in the mail.

The day came, and it was rather exciting. Of course, parking was a nightmare. The cool part was that while we were waiting, the team buses were riding by. We honked of course. We made the super long walk over to the stadium, and out of boredom, my brother and I did our own harmonized rendition of the National Anthem. What else were we going to do? It's America's Game, for cripes' sake. I like to think we can carry a tune efficiently together, even when I'm laughing mid-song. Anyway...

I took photos of the event, but to be honest, my iPhone was having a massive off-day, so you can tell we were virtually in the nosebleeds (next to last row).
It's the thought that counts, though. 
What fascinated me the most was how people treat this sport like a religion. Each squad had their own sets of "spirit videos" and they were absolutely hilarious.

Here's one from Army:

Here's one from Navy:

They were all pretty good--these are just two that I found that were shown that day. They kind of remind me of my video-making days from my recent time in college.

One thing they did before kickoff was a "card stunt." This was one of the things that I wanted to blow off before we even did it. I'm like: "Well that seems lame," and other people were probably thinking the same thing. Then this happened, and I won't lie, it was pretty awesome.

The kickoff happened, and right off the bat, Army just ran the ball constantly until about halfway through the third quarter. Navy mixed things up a little bit throughout the game.  The one thing I'll admit that sucked because it was my first game were the constant "media timeouts" that were heavily scattered throughout the game. At home, I would at least see a cute commercial, or use the toilet in the comfort of my own home, or not spend $5 on hot chocolate that was a wee bit strong. But no, it was kind of cold out there. The projected temperature was 58 degrees, and it was far from that. Because we were so high up, it was more like...40. Luckily I brought my Navy throw blanket (which was bought at the Army/Navy soccer game over two months ago) and some of us stayed warm.

Army was up 13-10 for most of the second half, and it actually looked like they were going to get their first win since 2001. Because Navy had a hard time with Army's running game, it looked like my first football game was going to be a bust.  However, a 40+ yard passing play and a run into the end zone got Navy back into the game at 17-13. With less than two minutes to go, Army had to make a mad rush to score a touchdown. Because there was a missed Army field goal in the third quarter, seven points were needed to win instead of three. They kept faithful to their run and the occasional surprise pass and managed to make it to the 16-yard line. Fourth-year Trent Steelman, Army's quarterback, had the game (literally) in the palm of his hand. However, the trade-off was fumbled and Navy recovered, ending the game.

I don't think I ever screamed and jumped that much even when the Phillies won the World Series. That was the craziest finish to a football game I've ever seen.

My whole family hugged each other and jumped and screamed while all of the Army fans started leaving. Because we know how bad traffic can be, we decided to leave before each squad sang their Alma Mater. Don't worry, we still heard it, and we walked away feeling kind of bad for Army because they were so close to singing second.

The way back was surprisingly calm, as we were going the opposite way of everyone else. That never happens either. I guess everything went in our favor that day. After a big family dinner, we called it a night. And then we went home and passed out for the next two days because of how exhilarating the experience was.

I am so incredibly glad that this was the first football game I ever went to. The excitement to the people that barely had an idea of what the Army and Navy did ("I wonder how many ships Army has compared to the Navy." I could not make this up.) to all of the cadets and midshipmen jumping around during various parts of the game, I couldn't have asked for a better time and a better adventure with my family.


You will be able to find my photos from the Army/Navy Game in the PHOTOS section of the blog before Christmas. As a Christmas Bonus, you'll be able to find pictures I took in September from the Army/Navy soccer match as well. As you can tell, I'm armed forces out this year.