FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots will be traveling today so Bill Belichick isn’t sure how much of the 119th Army-Navy game he’d be able to watch live. But for the son of a former Navy assistant football coach, the game was on his mind this week.
He and long snapper Joe Cardona, a Navy graduate, have been discussing the matchup, which will take place today at 3 p.m. in Philadelphia.
“Joe Cardona and I talk about it every day,” Belichick said smiling. “Without question when your dad coaches at Navy, that’s a huge part of your life. It’s a huge part of everybody’s life at those two academies.”
Steve Belichick, who served in the Navy during World War II, spent 34 seasons as a scout and assistant coach for the Midshipmen.
The first game football game Bill Belichick remembers watching at any level was the 1959 Army-Navy game.
“I was at home. I started going to the games the year after that. I was with the babysitter,” Bill Belichick said. “That was 43-12 in coach (Wayne) Hardin’s first year. Those are great memories. That’s a tremendous week there. The pep rally Thursday night. The sendoff for the team on Friday. Then coming back and victory bell on Sunday. That kind of set the tone for the rest of the year.”
Belichick clearly enjoyed recounting some of his most memorable games form the rivalry with remarkable detail.
“All of them, especially the ones that Navy won. The ‘62 game in (Roger) Staubach’s sophomore year. There was the skull and crossbones on the helmet. President Kennedy was at that game,” Belichick said. “(Kennedy) was walking across the field and a guy ran across the field and almost tackled him. It was crazy. The next year, of course, the game was postponed a week after President Kennedy was assassinated. That was the game Navy was stopped at the 4-yard line.”
Belichick, 66, said his coaching today is still influenced by his days with his dad at The Yard, the nickname Naval Academy students have for the Annapolis, Md., campus.
“Like a lot of kids, I followed my dad around. I went to practice. I was an only child. I did it at a young age and looked up to the coaches and players at Naval Academy,” Belichick said. “There was a lot to look up to there. There’s a lot of great, great people that wore those uniforms, both on the coaching staff and the players that went on to serve our country and dedicated their lives to our freedom. There were many great coaches who sat in those seats, head coaches and assistant coaches ... people who had a big impression on me. They didn’t know they were teaching it to me, but I was somehow learning it.”