Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29, 1890: Army-Navy

WEST POINT, N.Y. - In the tradition-laden world of college football, no tradition is held more dear than the season-ending game between Army and Navy. The two service academies, who for much of the early days of college football were among the top teams in the country, save their most important game for last. It's the game that means the most to both schools, with a season determined a success or a failure based soley on the results of that one game.

The tradition started on November 29, 1890, when the Naval Academy took the trip north to West Point and beat Army 24-0. Army made the return trip the next year, and the tradition was born. The first four years, the schools alternated hosting the game. Then, after a five-year break, they began playing the game in a neutral location, often in Philadelphia. In fact, the series returned to campus only in 1942 and 1943 before reverting to a neutral-site game from then on.

There have been a series of firsts in the rivalry. The first football helmet was worn by Midshipman Mason Reeves in the 1893 game after he had been warned that another kick to the head could kill him. In 1924, Army and Navy opened Chicago's Soldier Field with a 21-21 tie. The first instant replay was shown during CBS's 1963 broadcast of the Army-Navy game.

At the end of each game, the teams get together for a show of solidarity. As players from both teams line up facing their fans, the alma maters are played, first of the losing team and then the winning team.

November 29, 1934: DETROIT - It's a common question every Thanksgiving: why do the Lions play this game every year? As the Detroit Lions continue to languish in the NFL's basement year after year, an annual rite of Thanksgiving has become watching them play pathetically on Thanksgiving. So why do they get to play in the prime game every year? The simple answer is because they always have. Starting on November 29, 1934, Detroit's first season in their new city after moving from Portsmouth, the Lions have played on Thanksgiving Day every year of their existence. And while many NFL teams played on Thanksgiving before the Lions did - the Bears and Cardinals had their crosstown rivalry game on Thanksgiving for 10 straight years, for example - the Lions have been doing it for the longest continual stretch. So they get to keep doing it.

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