All of my radio colleagues tried to paint a picture of what it would be like for me experiencing my first time at the Army/Navy game in Philadelphia. They told me what to expect and how great it would feel watching all of the pageantry for the very first time. I was excited and could not wait to get there and see what it was all about. From the moment we landed in Philly, I knew the stories downplayed what I was about to experience.
The hotel was electric when we arrived, we checked and were immediately taken to gather our USAA swag and credentials for the game. The hospitality provided by the game sponsor was second to none compared to anything I had ever experienced in my 30 plus years covering sporting events. We did The Blitz Thursday and Friday on “Radio Row” something that has grown tremendously since my radio partner, Jason Minnix helped begin black in 2009. Guests were provided, big name guests like Jason Witten and the Chief of Staff of the Army. Dinners, drinks and great company would follow. But then Saturday rolled around. I could not wait to get to Lincoln Financial Field. Once we arrived, it was like Disneryland for football fans with patriotism in full display. Once on the field, flyovers, parachuter jumpers and goosebumps for sure. I will admit once the game began, it was typical Army vs Navy, 3 yards at a time.
We were able to hit the field with about 6 minutes left to play and that when the game got good! First time this game has ever gone into overtime and it took a fumble at the goal line to turn the tide. It was a display of emotion at the end, complete celebration on one side and devastation on the other. I thought I knew the best college football rivalries, but I discounted this one. Seeing the emotions will make you see first hand how important this game is to both sides.
As I sit here and write this story, I know I can’t give you the true feeling of being there, just like my colleagues could not give that to me. But what I hope to do is give you the sense of what this game means, not just to the participants, but to all of us who need to remember what this country is all about, what it stands for and what I hope it will always be, one nation, one people, together.