As many of you know, I am a graduate of the United States Naval Academy – and we are coming to that time of year: the annual Army-Navy Football Classic. Army is having a great year with a 7-3 record and putting lots of points on the board. Navy is 2-8 and ….. it is not one of our best years. But when I was a freshman (aka “plebe” in USNA slang) our record was 1-8, but all was redeemed and made whole with a victory over Army. So, despite our record and the apparent prowess of the Black Knights of the Hudson, hope springs eternal!
As you might well imagine, there are all manner of pranks and adventures that precede the game – and not just on game day. One year while I was a midshipman, we woke up one morning to see a full page ad in the New York Times. It was a picture of the Army cheerleaders and Bill the Goat, the Navy Mascot. They had kidnapped Bill! Yikes! The caption read: “Hey Navy, do you know where your kid is? Army does.” You had to admit that was a pretty good prank.
In 1992 the Superintendents of the US Military Academy, US Naval Academy and US Air Force Academy signed an armistice banning such pranks. In some of years leading up to that point, the animals themselves had been injured and some pranks were a bit over the top. But boys will be boys.
This year there was an Army raid on the private farm where Bill the Goat resides. Their intel was good – they arrived at the correct farm. The plan evaded security and they entered the compound undetected – except the goats were startled and ran. They say all battle plans evaporate upon first contact with the enemy – or in this case, goats. The fact that there was more than one goat to scatter should have been the first clue, but such is the fog of “war.” Nonetheless they successfully nabbed one of the goats.
The current USNA mascot is Bill 37. The cadets nabbed Bill 35, a 14-year old arthritic retiree. Apart from possible elder abuse charges, the Superintendents have announced their plans to investigate. But fear not, there is a whole range of other pranks that will play out between now and game day on December 11th (kickoff at 3:00-ish).
Go Navy, beat Army