AGGRO-TOURISM: ARMY-NAVY

Welcome to Aggro-Tourism, EDSBS's roaming safari tour of all those cultures that spring up on fall Saturdays, right here in America. Now playing: The Army-Navy Game.

The EDSBS Bureau of Aggro-Tourism is doing something a little different this week, focusing on a rotating-site game rather than one specific town. It's Army-Navy, though, and they're special like that. Please give a burly romper room welcome our roundtable panelists.

 

SHIT TYRONE GET IT TOGETHER


Navydawg
What anyone who didn’t go to one of the academies doesn’t understand is that this game more than any other literally affects the lives of the student bodies involved.  Every class at Navy knows their record against Army, every class from Army knows their record against Navy.  For the Plebes (freshman) at each Academy your quality of life actually gets better if you win, and god help you if you lose (as in my Plebe year).   In many ways the year doesn’t rotate around starting class or graduation, but on winning or losing this one game.
 
GoalieLax
As soon as you start as a student, you learn one thing - Beat Army.  Just watch the pain on the faces of the players who lose the game.  It's crushing.  Hell, it's crushing for me.  There are other games that might mean more to other people - crushing Missouri in a bowl last year; embarrassing Notre Dame in NYC this year - but nothing means more to the players or the students than beating Army.  I DREAD the day Navy's streak over Army ends.

DuNing
Army/Navy is all about the game.  Since the game is always played on a neutral site (usually Philadelphia), the Midshipmen and Cadets usually spend most of the day before the game piling onto buses for the trip to Philly, and then doing what anyone in the military can tell you the military does best (or, at least, most) waiting.  If the President is attending, they usually make all the students from both schools go through metal detectors and just mill around in a holding pen made out of bike rack until it's time to march into the stadium.

MichiganGator
I have been to A/N games in Philly, NYC (Meadowlands), and Baltimore. By far, Philly was the best city to host the game.

MichiganGator
It would be great if we could do home and home games with Navy, but this game attracts alumni from across the world, and more importantly it sells out NFL stadiums, so I know that will never happen.

Acura Cake
Philly is good for seedy bars and unhealthy food, and I say that in the kindest possible sense, and its really just a supersized version of a home game, without the quaint colonial atmosphere of Annapolis. 

Golden Hand
My biggest experience of Army-Navy has been on deployment, so favorite place to watch: Morale, Welfare & Recreation tent. There's just something about the smell of rubberized canvas that says college football.

Acura Cake
Most grads (Me included) have a tricky relationship with the school.  Speaking for myself, I hated it while I was there, stuck on campus most nights, wishing I was at UVA or UGA, plastered and chasing sorority girls around.  Couldn't wait to graduate.  But the fact remains, I met the best people on earth there, all suffering through the same shit, and the Navy's been good to me.  So when I go back, I watch the kids go by in their uniforms, remember how that was me not long ago.   

MichiganGator
There will be Army/Navy parties in every major city throughout the country and on every base or post throughout the world. For some of the soldiers and sailors, it may be the only opportunity in a long while to forget about where they are, how much they miss home, and just spend 3 hours cheering their loudest for their respective team. I have been to hundreds if not thousands of sporting events, and this is still my favorite game to be a part of.

 


PARK YOUR ASSES


[Editors' note: You're traveling to an NFL stadium. We're going to trust you to be OK handling this section yourselves. Don't make us unproud.]

@Corn_Chowder
As it pertains to the Army-Navy game, the best advice we can give is to be around the stadium area no later than dawn.  Make sure you dress warm and hang out wherever the academies are forming up for march-on.  You will see some true creativity from those who have had little or no sleep from the night prior as they attempt to assemble their uniforms and walk in a straight line.  I've heard tales of Cadets in long overcoats trying to get away with missing pants and Midshipmen wearing pillow cases around their necks because they couldn't find their scarves.  These are the future leaders of America that will have to adapt to the changing environment of combat.  This is leader development at its finest.

THEN WHAT?


@Corn_Chowder
The defining experience of the Army-Navy game is waking up in your hotel room 5 minutes before the brigade march-on with an unholy hangover and a few bodies strewn about the room and thinking "where are my pants?"  Also, tailgating around whatever stadium it's being held at with the looming threat of discipline at the very suspicion of tomfoolery despite having seemingly everyone that ever graduated from either academy trying to get you to do a 6-pack beer bong.

Acura Cake
Being a school full of type A super-organized personalities, there is always a some kind of class tailgate for going on where you'll see someone you know.  Its a pretty low key scene, tapped keg and a grill.  The Academy, being tax payer funded is insanely sensitive about its public image so they keep a lot of roving security in the parking lot to make sure its all in good clean, family oriented fun.  And most of it is.  But we do have that small segment of our alumni population who will wind up doing naked keg stands or try to start fights with the cops.  Its always fun to see.

Navydawg
The Tailgating/pregame experience is odd, its like the Georgia/Florida game but no one hates each other.  Cadets spend the pregame getting in straight lines and getting ready to march in, Mids spend the pregame sneaking their girlfriends into not very strait lines and hiding booze in camel backs, then sort of marching in.
 
Acura Cake
If Annapolis has a signature dish, its crab dip, a virtual heart attack in a bowl served with a nice side of hot bread.  Its lump crab, cram cheese, lard probably, old bay seasoning and some other stuff that makes a heavy, rich, disgusting, unbelievably delicious spread for bread that
you'll gain about 5 pounds just looking at.  Its about twice the thickness of an onion dip and I couldn't imagine visiting Annapolis without having it with every meal. 
No signature cocktails, though Annapolis proper is a Bloody Mary kind of place.  So there's your hangover breaker.  Most of us are shot and a beer types. 

DuNing
One more sidenote: Every midshipman I've ever known HATES to be referred to as Middies.  Mids is fine, but not middies.

Navy__march_on_medium

 

IN THE LAIR OF THE SCREAMING FLYOVERS


DuNing
Get to your seats early.  Since the game is on CBS, the teams march in an hour or so before kickoff so that CBS can film it and show clips later without taking time away from their favorite part of college football: commercials.  After both teams are in their seats there will be a badass flyover of Navy jets and Army helicopters.  Sometimes even Air Force One will buzz the stadium when the President is in attendance.  The Navy SEALs parachute team the Leap Frogs and the Army Golden Knights usually jump into the stadium as well.

GoalieLax
Given that Navy was terrible for so long, the school positioned gameday as a family affair.  There are more kids at Navy games than any other game I've been to.  There are also more really, really, really old people.  The upshot is a relatively quiet and uninteresting crowd.  If you come to a game, don't be surprised if someone yells "down in front" when you stand to yell on an opponent's 3rd down play.  I know, it sucks - but it's starting to change.  Given that there are not a lot of young grads in the local area (remember, everyone gets scattered to military bases worldwide within a couple months of graduation), it's tough to get an energetic fan base sometimes.  But people like me - a somewhat younger grad from 1999 - are moving back to the area and trying to change it one yell at a time.  Please, if you come to a game, make noise.  Think of it as a tutoring program where you can share your fandom with the uninitiated around you.

Acura Cake
Its a very laid back, straight-laced environment.  And yes, if you haven't seen it before, its nice to watch the Mids march onto the field before the game, and there is almost always an alum doing the prekickoff flyover.  And I still get goosebumps when I sing Navy Blue and Gold at the end of a game.  So stick around for the song afterwards.  

Patrick
If you've never been, definitely get into the stadium early (like 2 hours early) to see it.  Nowhere else do you see the entire student body get to stand in formation on the field before the game.

MichiganGator
My gameday experience was different from most people because I was on the sidelines as a manager for my 4 years at West Point. I can tell you that the march-on by the Cadets and Middies prior to the game, the coin-toss, the flyovers, and especially the singing of the alma maters after the game ends are enough to make even the most cynical person have a lump in their throat.

DuNing
Obviously, one school has to march onto the field before the other, but it seems like the exit tunnel used by the second school to march on is always right in the middle of the other school's seating area.  This means, of course, that while one of the schools is already in the stands and having fun, the other school has to march off the field right through the middle of them while still pretending to be somewhat serious and locked on.  The school that's in the stands then gets to taunt, scream at, and just generally harass their rival who is more or less powerless to stop them.  One of my favorite moves was to just lean over the rail and try to snatch some Cadet's cover (hat) off as they march by.  Ask anyone who's ever lost/forgotten their cover, getting caught without one by some asshole upperclassmen or officer sucks really, really bad.


Acura Cake
No one wears uniforms to the game unless you're a team Officer Representative, or you're working the game in some official capacity.  The navy alum look is pretty much Khakis, with a nice golf shirt.  Yuppie chic.  We stay relaxed.  I have a letter sweater at home, but I keep it hanging up.  The ones who get ridiculously decked out in Navy gear are almost always parents, or wives/girlfriends. 

MichiganGator
Cadets will be in the full Dress Gray uniform with Long-O (Long overcoat). As graduates, we get to keep our uniforms, but we generally don't fit into them anymore after about 2 years in the Army. This is an occasion where Cadets and Officers will be dressed to the nines. Back in the day, the players would only wear an Army Division patch for the A/N game. Now they wear the patch all of the time, which old grads think kind of sucks and takes the meaning out of the tradition.

@Corn_Chowder
The unspoken dress code for Army/Navy is whatever best conceals a flask.  I know of one recent graduate, whose dad may or may not have been a recent Commandant of West Point, who will be wearing the exact same thing as the Corps of Cadets on Saturday and may or may not slip in to do march-on with one of the Cadet companies.

GoalieLax
The pageantry is one aspect that defines the Army-Navy gameday experience, but that's a cop out.  What defines gameday for me is some good old fashioned option football with lots and lots of running.  If you don't understand the option, you better ask somebody, because you may as well be watching cricket compared to what goes on elsewhere in college football.  There is nothing better than watching a fullback rip off a 40 yard touchdown right up the middle because the ILB lost contain and cheated to cover the SB who has churned out 8 yards a carry for the last few plays.

Acura Cake
We sing the alma mater at the end, win or lose, go back to the parking lot and finish off the beer at the tail gate, then head downtown for the night.  Its a good way to go.

SUSTAIN THYSELVES.


@Corn_Chowder
This is tricky because, at least for West Pointers, the game is held in foreign territory.  The best hangouts are probably the ones closest to the stadium that will accommodate the binge drinking of those on the long boomerang buses back to West Point.  Beware of these people, they define "drinking with a purpose."

Golden Hand
Rum!

DuNing
Since the game is considered a "military obligation" for both student bodies, little drinking goes on among the Midshipmen and Cadets before the game.  That rule does not apply, however, to recent grads in town for the game.  Nothing like seeing a bunch of "officers and gentlemen" who have escaped the Academies get sloppy drunk like everyone else got to do for football games when they were still in college.

Navydawg
The post game becomes a free for all as 8,000 mids and cadets are turned loose in Phily or some other city for the night, and the behavior is exactly what you would expect from kids who spend their lives locked up, except all the drinks are on the house and everyone is happy you are there.  If you love College football  it’s a game you must see, and make sure you buy a mid a drink after the game.

MichiganGator
If the game is in Philly, Yuengling must be consumed. Even if you think it sucks, you have to drink it as a rite of passage.

GoalieLax
Hangouts is tough for the game, given it's always away from campus.  In Philly it's hard to go wrong with South Street.  The Friday night before the game, downtown Annapolis (or, if you will, DTA) is a blast.  It's a historic waterfront area with over a dozen bars located within a quarter mile of the school and you can't go wrong with any of them.  It's hilarious that some of these historic buildings built over a hundred years ago house a bar with a dance floor that pumps music till 2 am.  Quite the dichotomy.  As far as hangover food, it's hard to beat Chick & Ruth's deli...you may remember it from a Man v. Food episode where Adam downed a 6 lb milkshake and pound and a half of meat on a sandwich.  I love the open face brisket sandwich when I'm in pain...meat on white bread on fries slathered in gravy.

Fa2f4402f99b86a9a6908f329bb3_grande_medium

TALES OF INTEREST.


Patrick
The exchange of transfer students.  A handful of kids from each service academy attend one of the other two during each year and they do a form exchange of students between the schools before kickoff.  Once they've switched to their own side, they sprint over to their respective sections and run into the stands.

McDammit
My husband recently retired from the Navy (enlisted type, so not a previous "Midshipman"!)  When he was stationed at an itty-bitty base on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the base commander, an Annapolis alum, had season passes to Navy games (season passes with seats located in the "Golden Anchor" section, which, yes, is on the 50-yard line).  For whatever reason, the CO was unable to go to the game, so he passed the word that he would give the tickets away.  My husband snatched 'em up!  This was 1995 or 1996, arguably when Tech had zero national attention.  My husband wound up having duty the day of the game and was unable to go, but one of his shipmates and I attended the game.  I got several "stares" from others sitting in the "Golden Anchor" section as I cheered on my Hokies!! 

Golden Hand
Some buddies of mine who were working at Camp Victory (at Baghdad International Aiport) hung a big Beat Army banner off the side of the Al Faw palace in 2006.

@Corn_Chowder
We were seniors (Firsties) and my roommate, Fat Dan, was on the long boomerang and drank an abhorrent amount of booze in a matter of hours between the end of the game and midnight, when the buses left to head back to West Point.  I had to physically carry him back to my hotel where his uniform was, from the bar.  Our other roommate JROD and I took his limp, lifeless body and got him back into his uniform and then down to the buses.  We placed him next to some Plebe on the bus and threatened bodily harm, should Fat Dan not make it back safely. 

Acura Cake
The best story I've got is an oldie, told to me by my dad, Acura Cake Sr.  He was there in the late 60's, early 70's, and as you might image, the Academy was a bit of a lightning rod then, especially with our across the street neighbors, St John's College, a school so liberal that it makes Berkeley look like Tuscaloosa.  Anyway, back then (As in my day), the mids would march from the school, though town in formation to the game, and then march on before the kick off.  The Johnnies would tend to take this as an invitation to throw rocks at them, call them baby killers, all that fun stuff.  Anyway, one of them got a little too close to my dad's company, and one of his buddies, who was a big dude, got a hold of this Johnnie by the ponytail and managed to get him into the middle of about 120 marching Midshipmen.  No one broke ranks, but everyone who got the chance trampled the guy, or elbowed him, or whatever.  He wound up in a heap by the side of the road.  Anyway, I always thought that was a pretty good story. 

MichiganGator
The other memory of Army football I have is in the team hotel in Philly after we lost to Navy 19-9 in 1999. Legend has it that Bob Sutton was fired on a street corner after the game by legendary douchebag AD Alan Greenspan. Well I was there and I watched Greenspan fire Sutton in the lobby of the hotel.

GoalieLax
I was at the game in the old Lincoln stadium where the railing collapsed on the Army cadets and a couple dozen fell to the ground.  They people who fell were about 25 yards from my seat and we saw it all go down.  The game was stopped for an hour or so while ambulances came in to carry off the injured cadets.  Navy was winning but Army rallied for the win after play resumed.  To this day I feel no sympathy for those guys who tumbled, for I blame them for the loss.  That's sound logic, right?

DuNing
In 2003, the weather was unbelievable cold, and the East coast had gotten a bunch of snow the night before the game.  As one of my Navy classmates (now a Marine infantry officer) put it, it was "cold as ballfuck out here."  Navy marched onto the field first and hit their seats before Army made their entrance.  As the Woops were marching off the field right through the Navy seating section, the Mids proceeded to unleash a barrage of snowballs that had to have made the future artillery officers among the Army cadets at least a little aroused.  They were powerless to dodge them since they were squeezing into the tunnel to get off the field and were still supposed to be marching anyway.  It was beautiful.


Thanks this week to our military correspondents: Patrick, Acura Cake, Navydawg, @Corn_Chowder
, @GoalieLax, MichiganGator, Golden Hand, DuNing, and McDammit. And thanks every week to our bros and bro-ettes serving around the world. You are all the realest.

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