The annual Army-Navy Game is known for a lot of things. One of the coolest new traditions: Each team wearing alternate uniforms that honor specific elements of each side’s military branches.
Navy’s wearing Blue Angels uniforms, a tribute to the U.S. Navy’s flight team.
"This tribute to the Blue Angels reflects the enthusiastic pride and appreciation we have for the Navy's premier flying team and the motivation they convey to Navy football and the fleet at large," Navy AD Chet Gladchuk said. "The masterminds at Under Armour are always thinking of ways to inspire our troops while still reflecting a deep appreciation for a Naval history that is so ingrained in our game day traditions. Annually, a special Navy uniform has become a statement in this game and brings with it appreciated meaning and a clear message that we are all in."
Army’s all-white uniforms commemorate the 10th Mountain Division, formed during World War II.
According to Army’s official release, the 10th Mountain Division, which was originally called the 10th Light Alpine Division, trained in some harsh weather:
These soldiers trained at 9,200 feet to learn to fight, and survive, in the most brutal mountain conditions. Bill Bowerman, who would eventually go on to co-found Nike, organized the supplies and maintained the mules for the 10th Mountain Division as a Major in the Army, serving at the time as the commander of the 86th Regiment’s First Battalion.
On the cleats, there is a panda patch, which is a tribute to the 10th Mountain Division’s roots in Pando, Colo. The patch helped identify the soldiers, who were nicknamed the Pando Commandos:
There is also a patch that has the division’s coat of arms, along with the words “Vires Montesque Vincimus,” which translates to “We Conquer Powers and Mountains.”
The patch is on the uniform’s right shoulder to honor those who served. On the back of the helmet, the unit’s Follow Me stripe is found:
10th Mountain Division soldiers operated in blustery winter conditions. To stay in formation a dark stripe was placed on the back of their uniforms known as the “Follow Me” stripe. A similar stripe will adorn Army helmets when they take the field on Dec. 9
These teams wear awesome uniforms ever year.
The dueling alternates weren’t consistent at first. Army wore digital camo pants in 2008, while Navy wore uniform patches with a nod to the Marine Corps:
It was just the start of what would become tradition. In 2009, Army stayed with its normal look, and Navy brought back its 2008 set for the game:
Again in 2010, Army stayed traditional while Navy did its own thing:
The ‘11 designs weren’t too outlandish, particularly for Army, which had piping added to the sleeve as the most ostentatious part of its look along with a stencil patterned design to the uniform number:
In 2012, Army being able to wear black as the designated home team was big. It gave their uniforms some added pop because black and gold always looks so good as a uniform combination. The contrast of the gold on the black really made the Black Knights’ set shine that day:
The 2013 game featured snow, so the uniforms were always going to look cooler because that’s what happens when you play ball in the snow. It does seem that Navy’s uniforms always had a bit more going on with their sets than Army’s did. More piping, louder colors, and even a three-tiered helmet. Army’s are cool, but what’s going on with the gray?
The 2014 game had a new variable in the equation. Hello, Under Armour. UA was able to sign the Midshipmen athletic program to a 10-year deal, and the Maryland-based apparel giant pried them from the swoosh:
In 2015, Army and Navy started getting wild with the helmets. And we were all the better for it. Navy patterned its lids after different naval vessels and, woo buddy, am I ever in love with these bad boys:
Army went with a matte finish. One side had a uniform number, and the other side had the division of the Army each cadet would serve in upon leaving school:
In 2016, Navy went all in on the yellow. The semi-throwback to 1963’s team unis was a curious choice, and the color was loud on the uniform. The one awesome thing about the uniforms was the stars on the helmet, signifying each year Navy had beaten Army on the field consecutively. A light flex over your rival is always appreciated:
And Army leaned heavy into the all black as a nod to paratroopers: