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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Army vs Navy

Army vs Navy

ArmyThere is only one Division I college football game this weekend, but it is the best and greatest rivalry of them all. Seething in tradition, loaded with history, marked with mostly clever pranks, and performed by men who went on to accomplish great things.
This will make the 117th time these two teams have met. There have been some interruptions, not many, but a few. Twice during World War I and twice more when the academies could not agree on player eligibility standards in 1928-29. But the most famous interruption was from 1894-1901. This occurred after a Rear Admiral and Brigadier General conducted a duel after the 1893 game. A cabinet meeting was called by then President Cleveland and after the meeting both schools issued orders that neither team could travel for a football game. The Army-Navy game (it is NEVER referred to as the Navy-Army game) was restarted in 1901 by President Teddy Roosevelt. It was then that the neutral site of Philadelphia was chosen and it has served as the major host since. This year, it’s in Baltimore.

Why does this game, this rivalry, penetrate into almost every American’s home? Very few people meet the standards to attend either of the Academies. Both are very small schools compared the mega-plexes of campuses across the nation. These players will not be out on the field on Sunday afternoons next year. Instead, they’ll be out in the field, wherever that might be, or out on a ship sailing somewhere in the world. They will not be getting endorsements from Nike, or any other shoe company, and most likely they’ll never be seen on TV again.

But this football game is the best of them all because of who these teammembers, and these Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen, represent and who they are. They are us. Everyone across America at least knows someone who is serving or has served in the Army or Navy, and because of that, even if they don’t have a family member who has served, they’ll pull for the service that person was in. If they have family member that has served, then it is standard orders that the entire family pulls for that Service. If the family has multiple Service Members, then they must choose a side, depending on who’s their favorite family member. There is no neutrality. BUT, if you have a family member that has graduated from one of these Academies, it is imprinted upon the offspring’s DNA that they are loyal to that service, no matter what. No exceptions will be tolerated! I know this to be true from personal experience as my Dad, the Editor, is a graduate from The US Military Academy at West Point. Go ARMY!

But it even runs deeper than that. From the E-nothing private or seaman to the highest ranking General or Admiral this game affects those Soldiers and Sailors. At every Military base around the world this game will be broadcast. To the guys in the deserts, to the ships in the middle of nowhere, they’ll find a way to watch this game. For these players don’t just represent their Academies, they are the Standard Bearers of their Service. They carry the desire of every Soldier/Sailor in the world that they win.

The most important aspect of this game is the fact that everyone knows, that after the clock hits double zero and the official’s whistle blows ending the game, these players will take up the mantle of protecting this nation. They’ll run head-long into battle to protect us and fight for us. They will take a weapon and stand a post at night while we sleep. They’ll perform nighttime patrols over the fleet, they’ll cruise under the seas. These Cadets and Midshipmen are part of that brave class of Americans that stands between the people of our nation and the wolves of the world. They’ve already earned our respect and deserve our deepest gratitude.

This year’s game is most intriguing because Army is having the best year it’s had in a very long time. They are far better than most people think and they are and they’re fired up to win. If they didn’t have enough motivation, the Army players will be wearing tribute uniforms to the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II. Navy, on the other hand, will also be wearing retro uniforms, just not a historical as the Army’s. The Navy team has had the injury bug hitting them late in the season. Their starting QB and RB have been knocked out of this game. They were also in the running for Championship of their conference, but were soundly defeated by Temple. Army beat Temple earlier this season. It means nothing. Navy has had a very long run of beating the Cadets, but, like all streaks, this one must end as well. The pick is for the Army Black Knights to win, and I’m not just saying that because Go Army is part of my DNA, although, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever picked Navy to win this game. To all my fellow Soldiers who have served, or are serving, Prepare for a GLORY! If Leonidas could say it, so can I. To our Navy counterparts, we congratulate you on a fine season.


North Alabama will continue its playoff run as they travel to Shepherdstown, WV, to play the undefeated Shepherd University Rams. Two Harlon Hill Trophy finalists, UNA’s quarterback Jacob Tucker and Shepherd quarterback Jeff Ziemba, lead their respective teams. Both teams boast about having the best defense and each has stats to prove it. This has all the makings of a hard-fought contest that will cause me to be nervous, but, I shall not fear! The Lions Roar to victory as they march toward another National Championship.


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