Army and Navy will play football for the 117th time on Saturday, at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium (3 p.m. ET, CBS). The teams will keep up an annual tradition. They will renew one of the world’s best sporting rivalries, where the two academies go after each other mercilessly for three hours in December and then come together as service members on the same team: America.
It’s already cool, but it gets cooler every year nowadays because of the uniforms. This is the biggest game on either team’s schedule just about every year, and they’ve taken to dressing specially for the occasion. This year’s digs are great, as is now tradition.
First, Army. The Black Knights’ new threads are a tribute to World War II paratroopers.
Because paratroopers are badasses, so are the uniforms, by association.
The uniforms have their own website, with some explanations:
The uniform design pays homage to authentic WWII era paratrooper jump suits with division patch, oversized 48-star American flag patch, player name tapes, full-color historical unit patches and an improvised camo base layer. Additionally, initial members of the 82nd Airborne Division came from all 48 states which informed their “All American" nickname and iconic “AA” shoulder patch.
The color looks great, but it means something.
The black and muted gray tones express the fact that some of the most treacherous combat jumps happened at night, under the cover of darkness. The helmet design highlights the netting and hand-painted camouflage shapes that help disrupt the form, along with showcasing an array of authentic, era-specific tactical symbols. Army West Point branding completes the Long Gray Line that connects the current Corps of Cadets to their brothers in arms.
We’ve got a video:
Navy’s uniforms aren’t as rooted in military history, but they’re cool in a different way.
They’re throwbacks to a look Navy rocked in 1963, when the Midshipmen made the Cotton Bowl and went 9-2. Roger Staubach was the quarterback in those days. Navy nearly made the Cotton Bowl again this year.
Plus, the Mids are pretty straightforward about what they want here.
Fans, here are #NavyFootball’s @UAFootball designed “Beat Army” uniforms for this year's #ArmyNavy Game! pic.twitter.com/8QpFGWHQ2R— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) December 6, 2016
BEATING ARMY is something Navy knows a thing or two about. The all-time series is relatively close, with Navy leading it, 60-49-7. But Navy’s won 14 in a row now, meaning no Ken Niumatalolo-coached Navy team has ever lost to the Black Knights.
And yes, the 14 yellow stars are a reference to the streak, with that white star representing No. 15.
14 stars down the center of @NavyFB's helmet for 2016 @ArmyNavyGame. Don't worry @SECARMY, there's room for 1 more. #15InaRow. #BeatArmy pic.twitter.com/VFICAdKBs2— SECNAV Ray Mabus (@SECNAV) December 9, 2016
Awesome new uniforms are becoming an Army-Navy fixture.
For last year’s game, Army unveiled helmets that included a different military insignia for every position group.
Navy wore position-by-position helmets, too, which corresponded to various famous ships in the U.S. Navy’s fleet.
Navy’s pants also said “DAMN THE TORPEDOES,” a reference to an order that Union Admiral David Farragut is said to have given during the Battle of Mobile Bay in the Civil War.
They looked incredible in head-to-head action.
In 2014, Navy went with pants and gloves that said “DON’T TREAD ON ME” and wore red, white, and blue, stars-and-stripes uniforms.
I’m a big fan of Army’s 2012s, with a map of the region where Allied forces beat the Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. (The map is within the numbers.)
Army-Navy is a football rivalry. It’s also the year’s best uniforms battle.