How two officers almost shooting each other changed Army-Navy game forever

On December 12, two teams will battle it out on the field in their 116th contest — the first of which took place back in 1890.

In 1899, Philadelphia was chosen as a neutral locale to host the Army-Navy Game and begin the rivalry anew, says the NCAA.  This will mark the ninth time the game has been played at Lincoln Financial Field. The Midshipmen currently hold a 13-game winning streak over the Army’s Black Knights.

No two schools have greater cachet or deeper foundations.

Navy had been playing organized football since 1879. So, it was no surprise –when the teams kicked off their rivalry on The Plain at West Point on Nov. 29, 1890 — that the Navy won the first game of the series.

Passionate fans and followers of the storied series are no doubt chanting “Beat Army” and “Beat Navy” any chance they get through the halls of Annapolis and West Point.

Related: Army creates “We don’t give a S*&t, we give a F*$%!” video to respond to Navy ahead of game

Believe it, or not though, this “explosive” rivalry was neutralized at one time in history. The longest interruption of the game — between 1894 and 1898 — was also perhaps the most telling.

President Cleveland called a Cabinet meeting in February 1894, following an alleged incident between a Rear Admiral and a Brigadier General, which nearly led to a duel after the 1893 Navy victory.

According to the NCAA, when that meeting ended, the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of War, issued an order which said the Army and Navy football teams were “prohibited in engaging in games elsewhere.”

The Academies were told that other teams would be allowed to visit Annapolis and West Point to conduct football games, but the Army and Navy were restricted to home games. So, for the next five years, the huge rivals could not play each other.

Related: A Navy prank at the Pentagon that could never be pulled off today

Fast forward to current day and to the corner of Pattison and Broad, in Philly. While this piece of history may be etched in the minds of Army/Navy fans everywhere, there hopefully won’t be any major duels post-victory on Saturday.

West Point cadets cheer on their team at the 111th Army Navy Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Dec. 11, 2010.
West Point cadets cheer on their team at the 111th Army Navy Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Dec. 11, 2010.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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