50 epic photos of the Army vs. Navy football game
In the history of sports, a few great rivalries stand out. Baseball has the Red Sox and Yankees. College basketball has Duke and North Carolina. One of the longest-running and most-heated rivalries in college football is the one between the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Yes, we're talking about the Army-Navy game.
America's Game, as some have come to call it, first kicked off way back in 1890, and it's been held annually since 1930. The game is often the grand finale of college football's regular season, and the winner takes home the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Through the 2020 matchup, Navy leads the series with 61 wins to Army's 53. There have been seven ties.
Duty. Honor. Country.
In 2008, the Army Black Knights wore jerseys that read "Duty. Honor. Country" on the back.
The phrase is the official motto of the United States Military Academy.
Every year, Midshipmen players choose patches to wear on their uniforms to honor special or significant military units.
The Navy Midshipmen take the field for the 2008 Army-Navy game.
Bringing in the big guns
Army has a miniature tank affixed with a T-shirt cannon that it brings to big football games.
Here it is at the 2015 Army-Navy game.
Navy Blue and Gold
Here, the Navy Midshipmen sing "Navy Blue and Gold," the academy's alma mater, after falling to the Army Black Knights in December 2020.
Players wore masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The 115th Army-Navy football game, in 2014, was held in Baltimore. Here, two players celebrate after defeating their rival squad.
The Navy Midshipmen won that game 17-10.
Over the defenders
An Army player leaps over the defense to advance the football during a game in 2008.
The Midshipmen won the 2008 game 34-0.
No matter what the stats say, the students come prepared to cheer their respective teams to victory.
Here, Army cadets pose for the camera ahead of the 2014 game.
A Navy receiver dives to catch a pass during the 2008 matchup in Philadelphia.
Navy earned an easy victory in that game. The Midshipmen won 34-0.
The prisoner exchange
One fun tradition that takes place during the annual game is an event called the "prisoner exchange." During the exchange, seven West Point cadets and seven Annapolis midshipmen march to midfield, signaling their return to their home academy.
Of course, they're not really prisoners, these are students who participated in the Service Academy Exchange Program. The program allows students from Army, Navy, the Air Force Academy and the Coast Guard Academy to spend fall semester in "enemy" territory.
Here, an Army cadet signals first down, from a classmate's shoulders, during the 2010 meeting.
Cadets, fired up
Defensive back Dean Ngendakuriyo, No. 21 of the Army Black Knights, gets pumped up before the game in 2020. Army would win this game easily, with a final score of 15-0.
Though most games in this century-plus-long series have been played in Philadelphia — halfway between the two campuses — the 2020 matchup was moved to Army's Michie Stadium in West Point because of COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia.
Three hours before each game, before they take their seats to cheer their respective football teams, the Army cadets and the Navy midshipmen march onto the field in formation and salute the American flag.
The tradition, called "march on," is one of the many pieces of pageantry associated with this uniquely American tradition.
Another presidential appearance
President John F. Kennedy applauds from his box on the Army side of the Army-Navy game in 1962.
President Kennedy attended the game twice, once in 1961 and again in 1962. The Army-Navy game in 1963 was delayed a week following President Kennedy's assassination.
Captain meets the Chief
In this photo from 2011, President Barack Obama greets Navy team captain Alexander Teich, before the coin toss at the 50-yard line.
Since 1901, 10 sitting presidents have attended this football game.
A president at centerfield
President Donald Trump looks on as players from Army and Navy shake hands before the 2020 football game.
This game was the 121st meeting between the two teams.
Honoring fallen teammates
At the 2017 game, an Army cadet holds up the jersey of a teammate who died in a car accident earlier that season.
Honoring those lost, on the battlefield or otherwise, is a regular part of the tradition for these two military academies.
Making an entrance
If you're attending one of these games, don't forget to look up!
The Navy Leap Frogs parachute team makes an appearance at the matchup in 2004.
All dressed up
Here's another look at the Corp of Cadets marching onto the field in their dress uniforms, this time in 2009.
Around 4,300 students from each school attend the game each year.
Some pre-game chanting
Here, First Captain Reilly McGinnis leads the cadets in a pre-game chant on the field.
In 2020, cadets wore masks during the march onto the field.
Let it snow
Here, Army quarterback and team captain Ahmad Bradshaw celebrates in the snow following the Black Knights' 2017 victory.
The cadets scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter and won the game by one point.
Cheerleaders lift West Point Superintendent Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., into the air following Army's 2017 victory.
Navy had a chance to snatch the victory in the final play of the game, but a too-wide field goal attempt clinched the game for the Black Knights.
Hoisting the trophy
Here, the Navy football team shows off the Commander-in-Chief's trophy, after their 2005 victory.
In that game, the Midshipmen downed the Black Knights 42-23.
Navy Midshipmen running back John Howell scores a touchdown during the Army-Navy game in 2010.
The Naval Academy won the 2010 matchup 31-17.
Cadets in a row
Here's an aerial view of the Army cadets standing in formation before the big game in 2009.
Can you count the cadets in this photo?
Here, Navy Midshipmen players climb a wall the celebrate with fans after downing Army in 2015.
Navy came from behind to defeat the Black Knights 21-17.
Champions of the sky
The Army Golden Knights parachute team land on the field before the 2004 Army-Navy game.
The Golden Knights are known to the parachute world as the “Champions of the Sky.”
Make it rain
Here, the Army Black Knights celebrate after a victory against the Navy Midshipmen in 2017. This win was their second in as many years.
Head coach Jeff Monken (and the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy) were on the receiving end of a Gatorade shower in the jubilant locker room.
Bill the Goat
The Midshipmen's mascot is Bill the Goat. The first Bill the Goat appeared in 1893.
This is "Bill XXXVII" at the 2019 Army-Navy game. He is, of course, the 37th goat to be named Bill in this four-legged fraternity of Bills the Goat.
Always prepared, Navy even has goats in training.
This, of course, was Bill XXXV when he was... just a kid... at the game in 2015.
The 1926 Army-Navy game stands out for a few reasons. First — it's the only game of the series to ever be played in Chicago.
Another interesting thing about this game is that it ended in a 21-21 tie, one of just seven ties in the rivalry's storied history.
Shades of grey
Here's an aerial look at the Army cadets in attendance at the 2009 Army-Navy game.
A few plain-clothed fans pepper the sea of "dress grey" uniforms.
It runs in the family
Young fans cheer in support of the Midshipmen at the Army-Navy game in 2015.
Many families share a generations-long love for this rivalry.
Victory is sweet
Here, Navy students cheer during the 2014 match, played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
The Midshipmen won the 2014 game 17-10.
All they do is win, win, win?
As T-Pain once sang on a DJ Khaled track, "If you going in, put your hands in the air, make 'em stay there."
Here, the Navy Midshipmen celebrate a 2009 victory with their fists in the air.
A close game with long passes
Army Black Knights quarterback Chris Carter finished the 2015 matchup with 208 passing yards.
Despite Army's impressive passing game, Navy came from behind to steal a victory.
Ready for kickoff
In 2009, members of the Army Black Knights ran onto the field carrying an American flag.
Cadets greeted the cheerleaders and team on the field.
Block that kick
In this photo from 2014, Army cadets celebrate after the Black Knights' special teams blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.
According to ESPN, 70,935 fans attended the game in 2014.
Victory at sea
The Midshipmen unveiled these hand-painted helmets ahead of the 2015 Army-Navy game.
Each position group wore a different ship-inspired design.
No snow days here
Snow and rain fell throughout the 2013 rivalry game.
This game would mark Navy's 12th consecutive victory in the series. Despite a 14-year win streak for the Midshipmen, Army has bounced back to win four of the last five meetings.
A mule points the way
Here's another look at the Black Knights taking the field — this time with the Army Mule mascot pointing the way.
The team wore black and gold uniforms at the 2014 match.
"I believe that we will win"
In this photo from 2004, cheerleaders lead the crowd in a chant in support of the Naval Academy football team.
Annapolis won that game 42–13.
Play like a mule
Cadets on two Army mules watch reluctantly as Annapolis scores a touchdown in this 2004 meeting.
The mules don't seem to mind.
Midshipmen safety Daiquan Thomasson makes an interception during the 2015 Army-Navy game.
Annapolis made two interceptions in that game (Army had none).
In 2004, West Point cadets cheered on the sidelines. As the players ran onto the field, choppers flew overhead.
Military helicopters often do fly-overs before the start of the annual game.
At West Point, it's customary to burn a boat — or a makeshift submarine — before the annual game.
The bonfire is the final on-campus tradition before the two teams travel to the game location.
Be true to your school
Navy midshipmen sing in the stands during the 2009 Army-Navy game.
Each year, the crowd is as engaged as it is raucous.
Future military officers of America
In the foreground, the Brigade of Midshipmen stands in formation on the football field, before taking their seats for the 2013 Army-Navy game.
In the background, the Corps of Cadets gets settled in for some football action.
Here's another play from that rainy 2013 matchup.
In this play, Navy Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds (19) carries the ball for one final touchdown in the fourth quarter.
A little levity
President Barack Obama laughs with Navy midshipmen and other fans at the 2011 Army-Navy game.
Navy won that game 27-21.
"Beat Army" in space
Here's NASA's Gemini 6A spacecraft in orbit, in December 1965. In the window, there's a sign that reads "Beat Army."
Pilot Tom Stafford, an Air Force test pilot and U.S. Naval Academy graduate, hung the sign ahead of the annual game.