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Time to stop pretending the Army-Navy game is what it was back in the day

Posted by John Reed on

Today is the day they used to play the Army-Navy Game “in my day” (’64-’68) and before. And it was one of the biggest football games of the year then. NCAA was still more popular than NFL then (pre-superbowl). Now, it is sort of a post-season, pre-bowl season exhibition game.
In recent years, they were forced to move the Army-Navy Game back into December because today is important rivalry day and neither Army nor Navy are important anymore in NCAA football. Army will probably be 5-6 after today’s likely win over U Mass (ranked 131 out of 131). I think Navy is 4-7. Air Force has already won the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy this year.
The Army-Navy Game has often been Battle of the Bums. At present, Army is ranked 107 out of 131 and Navy, 103. Depicting Army-Navy Game as some sort of epic virtuous contest between sainted young men willing to risk their lives for freedom after college really is bunk.
Yes, 20 of my classmates were KIA in Vietnam. But I do not believe any of them were varsity football players. I think the pertinent facts are that Army football players are less likely to choose infantry as their branch, less likely to make a career of the Army, and more likely to flunk out of West Point on academics or honor code violations than non-football cadets. As a group, the Army varsity football-playing cadets are arguably the least saintly of all the cadets. Some Army football players have lived up to the best values imputed to them by TV announcers. Army’s Lonesome End Bill Carpenter Class of 1960, All-American. He chose infantry, did two tours in Vietnam and on one occasion, in close combat with the North Vietnamese, called napalm in on his own position. He noted in was in triple canopy jungle which made it less suicidal than it seemed. He was awarded the Silver Star, a bravery medal, later upgraded to the DSC, the second highest bravery medal. He saved another guy’s life by carrying him out of a crashed C-123. He retired as a three-star general.
Nate Sassaman, Class of 1985, a more recent Army QB, also was a gung ho infantry guy, albeit with a serious reprimand that ended his career as a ltc. He was awarded the Bronze Star with a V, a bravery medal.
But in general, as a group, Army football players tend to be at the bottom of all metrics of follow-me, infantry, self-less service sainthood. The Army-Navy Game, big deal though it was in the pre-NFL past, is now a game between two woke, Deep State barely FSB teams ranked 107 and 103. Its current hype is based on focus on their past laurels and a willful blindness and sanitization of the true nature of the service-academy football players in relation to the rank-and-file cadets and midshipmen. Absent that history and Hollywood war movie hero hype, It would not be on CBS and probably get lower TV ratings than the FCS championship.
The service academies are now anachronisms and more woke and affirmative action than Pat Tillman (ASU ’98 airborne ranger KIA friendly fire Afghanistan Silver Star).

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